WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Newt Gingrich has taken double-digit leads over his Republican rivals in three states, according to a poll on Thursday.
Gingrich, former House of Representatives speaker and recent frontrunner in the Republican nominating race, polled ahead of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney by margins of 18 to 27 percentage points in matchups in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the Quinnipiac University poll showed.
In Ohio, Gingrich also edged out President Barack Obama with 43 percent support compared to Obama's 42 percent, but the president topped Gingrich in Pennsylvania and Florida.
"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is no longer just the flavor of the month ..." said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Gingrich's surge in the GOP race is accompanied by a better showing among independent voters in a general election race against President Obama, although he still has a ways to go."
As other Republican aspirants stumble on the campaign trail, Gingrich has soared to the top of the pack as an alternative to Romney, who some conservatives see as too moderate.
Gingrich's campaign in the nominating contest to choose a challenger to Obama in the 2012 election faltered severely when his staff resigned en masse in the summer.
(Reporting by Lily Kuo, editing by Philip Barbara)