The first snap polls out of Florida, after South Carolina’s primary, showed a huge surge for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as he rocketed past former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with sizeable but single digit leads. But two polls released Tuesday showed the race to be neck and neck, and new Quinnipiac numbers out Wednesday morning also seem to show show the race stabilizing ahead of the January 31st primary. Quinnipiac finds Romney with a two point lead over Gingrich 36 - 34, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gets 13 percent and 10 percent go to Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
“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,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said in a release.
Gingrich is certainly surging in the state — Quinnipiac’s internals show him down eleven before the results of his big win in South Carolina were announced, and with a six point lead after. He’s consolidating conservative support, which has been the most mobile voting bloc nationwide amongst Republicans and in Florida specifically. Gingrich sees a fifteen point lead on Republican voters that support the Tea Party in the poll.
But that doesn’t mean Romney is out of this.
“Romney, however, holds the potential trump card that on the question most important to voters — who can best fix the economy — he is seen as the best candidate,” said Brown. Indeed, 47 percent of Republicans in Florida prefer Romney on the economy, against Gingrich’s 30. And Romney seems to be holding off Gingrich on a key metric — electability. The Quinnipiac numbers show Romney outpacing Gingrich 49 - 35 on the question of who can beat President Obama in fall, something that Gingrich has been challenging Romney on in other polling. If Romney can hold the economic edge in combination with the electability argument, he can maintain the rationale for his campaign.
Late Update, 3:01 p.m.: A new poll from American Research Group came in this afternoon and moved Romney back to the lead in our TPM Poll Average.
Later Update, 4:20 p.m.: CNN/TIME released new numbers on the race and improved Romney’s lead in our average to 5.5 percent.
The Quinnipiac poll utilized interviews from 600 likely Florida Republican primary voters conducted January 19th to the 21st. It has a sampling error of four percent.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.