Gingrich opens wide lead in Florida as Romney support plummets

GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich (source: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore)

While a Rasmussen Reports survey released Monday indicates that Newt Gingrich now counts more Florida Republican voters in his corner than Mitt Romney, conservative commentators are analyzing South Carolina results, taking sides or doing their own polling.

Rasmussen Reports has Gingrich earning 41 percent of the vote among likely Florida Republican primary voters, Romney in second at 32 percent and Rick Santorum third with 11 percent, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul attracts support from 8 percent.

Rasmussen writes: “Less than two weeks ago, Mitt Romney had a 22-point lead in Florida, but that’s ancient history in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Following his big win in South Carolina on Saturday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich now is on top in Florida by nine.”

The poll results add that among Florida voters “forty-two percent (42%) now believe Gingrich would be the strongest candidate against Obama, while 39% say the same of Romney.”

Red County — a conservative blog — writes that “people are mad as hell they are about to be stuck with another boring, moderate, uninspiring choice that has at best a 50/50 shot at losing to the worst president since Carter. They are flocking to Newt not because they think he’s a great guy, but because right now, he’s the only one fighting for conservatism and GOP voters are looking for a vessel to channel their anger with Obama and their complete disappointment with the GOP establishment which is now embodied perfectly by Romney.”

The Shark Tank, a conservative media outlet focused on Florida politics, published the results of “another totally unscientific poll is in order to gauge the conservative Republican electorate’s take on which of the three candidates would be the most trustworthy as President of the United States.” The results show that almost 50 percent of 603 voters favor Santorum, Gingrich comes in second and Romney is third.

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, writes that in South Carolina more than 600,000 Republicans voted Saturday, an increase of over 35 percent compared to the 2008 primary. The group points out that despite Gingrich’s negative image, “South Carolina Republican voters tended to see Gingrich as the most electable candidate.”

Rasmussen adds that 77 percent of Florida Republican voters polled “have a favorable opinion of Romney, while 69% say the same of Gingrich. Sixty-four percent (64%) give Santorum positive reviews, but only 33% have a favorable opinion of Paul.”

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