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2012 Florida Republican Primary

Florida GOP Primary: Romney 44%, Gingrich 28%

Sunday, January 29, 2012

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%. 

These figures reflect a significant turnaround over the past week. Last Sunday, just after his big win in the South Carolina Primary, Gingrich led Romney by nine.  By the middle of this past week,  Romney was back in control with an eight-point advantage. Despite all the ups and downs, the results today are very similar to polling results found in Florida three weeks ago, coming off Romney’s decisive victory in the New Hampshire Primary.

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum earns 12% support, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up 10%. One percent (1%) prefer some other candidate, and five percent (5%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here).

Republican voters are looking first and foremost for a candidate who can beat Obama. Earlier in the week, when Gingrich was leading in Florida, the Sunshine State's primary voters were evenly divided as to whether Romney or Gingrich would be the stronger general election candidate. By mid-week, as Romney regained the lead, he had a 15-point advantage over Gingrich on this question. Today, 53% believe that Romney is the strongest candidate against the president, and only 29% think Gingrich fits that role.

Rasmussen Reports tracks matchups between Obama and the top Republican contenders on a daily basis. These numbers are showing the same general trend. As of Sunday morning, Romney was just two points behind the president,  while Gingrich trailed by 13 (sign up for free daily email updates).  Romney's numbers have been fairly steady all week, but Gingrich has fallen further behind as the week unfolded.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) in Florida now expect Romney to eventually win the GOP presidential nomination, up from 55% on Wednesday. Just  21% think Gingrich will be the nominee, down from 31% earlier in the week.

This Florida survey of 750 Likely Republican Primary Voters was conducted on January 28, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

Seventy percent (70%) of Likely Florida Primary Voters have a favorable opinion of Romney. Gingrich is viewed favorably by 58%, Santorum by 64% and Paul by 37%.

Just 24% say the debates are a Very Important factor in their voting decision. Another 57% say they are Somewhat Important.

Twenty-four percent (24%) of Florida primary voters believe it would be good for another candidate to get in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Nationally, that figure is 33%.

Three percent (3%) rate the economy as good or excellent, while 67% say it's in poor shape. Fourteen percent (14%) say the economy is getting better, but 59% believe it is getting worse. These numbers are a bit more pessimistic than the national average.  Rasmussen Reports measures consumer confidence on a daily basis.

Economic Issues continue to dominate Election 2012. On Tuesday, Scott Rasmussen's new book will be released: The People's Money: How the American People Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt .  The book shows how the federal budget crisis was created by the Political Class pursuing their own agenda rather than listening to the American people. It also shows specific proposals, supported by the public, that would reduce spending and deficits more than anyone in Washington is proposing. You can pre-order The People's Money today.

Among Very Conservative voters, Gingrich leads by six. However, among those who are Somewhat Conservative, it's Romney by a 52% to 24% margin. The former governor also leads by 20 among those who are not conservative.

Only 21% of Florida voters now say it's possible they could change their mind before voting.

Nationally, Gingrich leads the presidential pack among likely GOP primary voters with 35%.  After that, it’s Romney 28%, Santorum 16% and Paul 10%. The charges have been flying fast and furious about Gingrich’s marital and professional behavior and Romney’s business practices and taxes, but 68% of Likely Republican Primary Voters nationwide believe Gingrich is at least as ethical as most politicians.  Eighty-two percent (82%) regard Romney to be at least as ethical as most of his peers. 

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.

We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

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To learn more about our methodology, click here.