More Polls: Romney Takes Commanding Lead in Florida

Daniel Doherty

1/29/2012 1:44:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

Three new polls conducted in the Sunshine State this weekend suggest that Mitt Romney is going to win the Florida primary on Tuesday. Here are the findings:

Rasmussen Reports:

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has opened a double-digit lead in Florida as the perception grows among Republican primary voters that he is the strongest general election candidate against President Obama. The state's GOP Primary is on Tuesday.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Florida Republican Primary Voters, conducted Saturday, shows Romney up by 16 points with 44% support. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a distant second at 28%.

NBC News/Marist:

In the race for the Republican nomination in Florida, Mitt Romney leads Newt Gingrich by 15 percentage points among likely Republican primary voters.

Romney’s lead has changed little after Thursday night’s debate. Before the debate, Romney had a 14 percentage point advantage over Gingrich. After the debate, he leads by 15 percentage points. Santorum improved his standing from 13% to 18% following the debate.

Miami Herald/Mason-Dixon:

Newt Gingrich swaggered into Florida as a Republican front-runner, but now he’s close to slipping out as an also-ran against a resurgent Mitt Romney.

Gingrich is badly trailing Romney by 11 percentage points, garnering just 31 percent of likely Republican voters heading into Tuesday’s presidential primary, according to a Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald/Tampa Bay Times poll released late Saturday night.

President Barack Obama should be wary as well. Romney beats Obama by a 48-44 percent spread — a lead inside the error-margin, however — in a theoretical general-election matchup, the poll shows.

Certainly, as these three polls demonstrate, Republicans in Florida overwhelming believe Mitt Romney is the most electable candidate. What’s more, the former Massachusetts governor is suddenly attracting a plurality of voters including Tea Partiers, Independents, Hispanics and senior citizens. According to the Marist survey, for example, 62 percent of Floridians say he is an acceptable nominee. In short, the $6.8 million that Team Romney spent this week on negative campaign ads seems to be paying off.

That being said, the former House Speaker is not calling it quits. Fresh off garnering a major endorsement last night, Gingrich is optimistic he will prevail in Florida.

"I think there's a very high likelihood we're going to win Florida because I think when people understand how many different times... he said things that weren't true, his credibility is going to just, frankly, collapse," Gingrich told "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer.

In any event, both candidates are traveling around the state today delivering their closing arguments. Can Gingrich, in the time he has left, persuade Sunshine State voters he’s the strongest Republican candidate running for president? Or, is it a foregone conclusion the Romney camp will cruise to victory on Tuesday?