Surging since his South Carolina Republican presidential primary win, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wipes out a 12-point lead by Mitt Romney to tie the former Massachusetts governor in Florida, according to a Quinnipiac University poll release today. The final tally is 36 percent for Romney to 34 percent for Gingrich among likely voters in the Florida Republican presidential primary, but Gingrich gets 40 percent to 34 percent for Romney among likely voters surveyed after the South Carolina primary.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum receives 13 percent to 10 percent for Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.
Today's results compare with a 36 - 24 percent Romney lead in a January 9 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University.
No matter which candidate is ahead, the race for the Sunshine State's delegates remains wide open. Although only 7 percent of likely voters are undecided, 38 percent say they might change their mind. There is little difference among Gingrich and Romney supporters in terms of thinking they might change their mind.
Romney is viewed by more likely primary voters as best able to handle the economy and most sharing voters' values, while Gingrich is seen by more voters as having the knowledge and experience to be president, being a strong leader and better at handling foreign policy.
"Florida is essentially a dead heat and a two-man race between Gov. Mitt Romney and Speaker Newt Gingrich entering the last week of the campaign," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
"Gingrich's South Carolina victory clearly gives him a boost in Florida. The question is whether there is more of that to come, or whether any bump from a previous victory will dissipate as happened to Rick Santorum in New Hampshire after winning Iowa and Romney in South Carolina after taking New Hampshire," Brown added.