From Quinnipiac University's survey of self-described likely Florida voters:
With 36 percent of Florida Republican likely primary voters, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a double-digit lead three weeks before the nation’s first big-state presidential primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. But 54 percent of GOP primary voters say they still might change their mind.
Twelve points back in the Republican pack is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 24 percent, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 16 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey finds. Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul is at 10 percent with 5 percent for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and 2 percent for former ambassador Jon Huntsman. This first look at likely primary voters, a more select group, can’t be compared with earlier surveys of registered voters.
There is almost no gender gap in the primary selections.
“Gov. Mitt Romney has a double-digit lead in Florida among likely primary voters. But the primary is three weeks away and the results from New Hampshire and South Carolina could shake things up in the Sunshine State,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “With more than half of voters saying they might change their minds and more than 50 percent of them backing candidates perceived as more conservative, Romney could be vulnerable if those voters settle on one candidate.”
Romney is the best-liked candidate among Florida likely GOP primary voters, with a 73 – 14 percent favorability rating. Santorum gets a 59 – 8 percent favorability, while 33 percent of likely voters don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. Gingrich gets a 59 – 29 percent favorability, while Paul has a negative 34 – 47 percent favorability.
Among Florida self-professed Tea Party members, Romney and Gingrich are tied with 32 percent each, followed by Santorum with 19 percent, Paul with 7 percent and Perry with 4 percent.
Tea Party members give Gingrich a 76 – 18 percent favorability, with 72 – 7 percent for Santorum and 72 – 19 percent for Romney.
The race is closer among white evangelical Christians: Romney gets 28 percent to Gingrich’s 26 percent, with 20 percent for Santorum.
From January 4 – 8, Quinnipiac University surveyed 560 Republican likely primary voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida,