PPP’s first post-South Carolina poll in Florida finds Newt Gingrich with a small lead. He’s at 38% to 33% for Mitt Romney, 13% for Rick Santorum, and 10% for Ron Paul.
Gingrich has gained 12 points since a PPP poll conducted in Florida a week ago. Romney has dropped 8 points. Paul and Santorum have pretty much remained in place. Their favorability numbers show similar trendlines. Gingrich’s has increased 8 points from +15 (51/36) to +23 (57/34). Meanwhile Romney’s has declined 13 points from +44 (68/24) to +31 (61/30).
An InsiderAdvantage poll for NewsMax found Gingrich with an even large lead.
Gingrich: 34 percent
Romney: 26 percent
Ron Paul: 13 percent
Rick Santorum: 11 percent
Other: 2 percent
No opinion: 14 percent
This is a remarkable reversal of fortune. Only a week ago some polls had Mitt Romney leading in Florida by over 20 points. To blow such a huge lead so quickly has to shake any candidate and campaign.
While this primary has shown us that Republican voters’ opinions can turn on a dime with this set of choices, it is going to be very hard for Romney to turn things around in Florida. A significant share of the voting, either by absentee ballot or early voting, is already underway.
At this point Romney’s best hope is to turn the contest around in February, when there are few debates and the primary schedule includes states presumably more favorable to Romney.