Romney Up 14-Points as Florida Vote Looms
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is surging ahead of Tuesday's GOP presidential primary in Florida with a 14-point lead over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The results of a Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey released Monday had Romney favored by 43 percent compared to 29 percent for Gingrich.
Texas Congressman Ron Paul of Texas and former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum each received 11 percent in the poll, which was taken on Friday.
Just 7 percent of those polled said they are still undecided, but 24 percent said they could change their mind by the time they reach their polling site on Tuesday.
The poll's margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points, Quinnipiac said.
"Romney carries every part of the GOP coalition," Peter Brown, assistant director for the Connecticut-based polling institute, told the Associated Press. "If this margin holds up tomorrow, it's hard to see where Gingrich goes from here."
Gingrich indicated he was nonplussed by the poll and would remain in the race all the way to the GOP's national convention in Tampa in August.
The Gingrich camp hopes it might still benefit from the momentum gained in South Carolina from roughly a half million votes already cast in Florida, either absentee or in the state's early voting period.
Romney's far wealthier campaig has a decided advantage because of its overwhelming budget for television ads and stronger get-out-the-vote effort.
Political observers, however, say Gingrich's continued presence in the race will force the status-quo Romney to take strong stands in issues important to conservative GOP voters in order to win.
Prior to his stinging 10-point defeat in South Carolina at Gingrich's hands Romney had run a "don't upset the applecart" campaign based on what critics described as "being the least objectionable candidate with the best haircut."
“If you’re going to take on the establishment, you can’t be namby-pamby!” Gingrich said in a clear shot Romney at a Florida rally on Monday.
John Pitney Jr., a professor at Claremont McKenna College who has written about Gingrich, said “One of the keys to Newt is that he’s always seen politics as war.”
“What I see now is just an older version of the younger Gingrich. He hasn’t changed radically, to use one of his favorite words. He’s still audacious," he added, saying it was how Gingrich was winning voters.
As the Florida vote looms large on the horizon Romney is riding high by emulating his opponent.