Florida Revisted

In our first Florida poll five short days ago we were surprised to report that Mitt Romney had regained the lead. We shouldn’t have been surprised, because Mitt Romney is now not only leading, he may win a majority of votes in the Sunshine State GOP Primary.

Here are our latest results both with the normal “undecided” option plus a projection without undecideds:

Type: Automated - Date: 1/29//2012 - Participants: 1,188 Likely voters - Margin of Error: ± 2.84%
Results with Undecideds
Gingrich25%
Romney44%
Santorum10%
Paul10%
Undecided11%
Without Undecideds
Gingrich28%
Romney50%
Santorum12%
Paul11%

The snowbird-influenced, somewhat less conservative voter base of Florida is forcing the pendulum to swing back into Romney’s arena, but as Joe Scarborough wrote in an excellent Politico.com article about Gingrich…

A Gingrich campaign is always a high wire act without the net and sometimes, the main actor in this manic routine actually makes it to the other side.  Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/72084_Page3.html#ixzz1kuEpyu5T

Gingrich’s benefactors have deep pockets and are single-minded. Newt’s their guy and they will undoubtedly write enough checks to keep him in the game and area TV stations fat and happy. And the Newtonian Brigade will continue to fantasize about the prospect of Gingrich debating President Obama should he find a way to regain his bearings.

Then again, a big win by Romney in Florida will undoubtedly help restore his previous aura of being the inevitable winner (60% in Florida predict that)–unless more conservative voters in upcoming primaries slingshot Newt back in the lead.

We’re getting whiplash…and this roller coaster ride isn’t over yet.

Florida Surprise

We have a motto at We Ask America Polls: The Numbers are the Numbers. That means that if the audience we dial meets our standards, we don’t second-guess the results–even if the numbers buck conventional wisdom.

That’s the situation we face with our first Florida poll that swims against the tide of Newt Gingrich surging in the Sunshine State. Instead, we’re showing Mitt Romney rebounding sufficiently to regain a slight, margin-of-error lead.

Here are the head-to-head results, plus results to our question concerning which candidate voters think will ultimately win the nomination:

Type: Automated - Date: 1/23//2012 - Participants: 946 Likely voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.19%
CandidateHead-to-HeadUltimate Winner
Gingrich32%34%
Romney34%45%
Santorum9%4%
Paul8%4%
Undecided17%13%

Granted, this poll was completed just minutes before another debate commenced–a forum where Gingrich often excels and Romney can display an equivocating persona. But we believe that Florida voters are still making up their minds and the next few days could make pollsters nauseous from heaving swells of change. A key indicator for us is that Romney one again easily leading the pack when we asked who voters thought would ultimately win the nomination without regard to their personal choice.

Of course, if Rick Santorum and/or Ron Paul decide to drop out of the race, the dynamics can change in a heartbeat. In the meantime, the numbers prevail…but we’ll soon be back to check the mindset of Florida voters.

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NOTE: This poll was paid for by We Ask America Polls™. The information has not been shared with any public official, candidate, cause or campaign.

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Exit & Ex’s

On a tumultuous day in Republican politics, Newt Gingrich surged ahead in our latest South Carolina tracking poll. Whether it holds or not is anyone’s guess as upheaval prevails in the Palmetto State.

In an explosive day in GOP presidential politics, one candidate — Rick Perry — exited from the race while throwing his support to Gingrich. Meanwhile, one of Gingrich’s ex-wives told ABC News (among other accusations) that Newt had asked for an “open marriage” to sanctify his cheating. If that weren’t enough, it was revealed that Iowa’s slapdash caucus nose count missed a few nostrils, and Rick Santorum–not Mitt Romney–was the actual winner. Whew.

Frankly, all of this turmoil makes for a lousy polling environment, so we want to you to be fully aware of the snapshot the following topline results produced.  These numbers could settle down tomorrow…or not. Here are tonight’s numbers with the previous two poll results:

Type: Automated - Date: 1/19/2012 - Participants: 988 Likely voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.12%
 1/10/121/15/121/19/12
Gingrich21%18%32%
Huntsman4%5%3%
Paul8%12%13%
Perry5%6%3%
Romney26%31%28%
Santorum13%9%9%
Undecided22%19%14%

Is this latest set of results a flick-of-the-polling-needle, or has Gingrich found the keys to stopping the Romney Express? It’s difficult to believe that the behavior that his ex-wife is reporting won’t have a negative impact on the former Speaker. But for now, there seems to be a damn-the-media knee jerk support for Gingrich–not dissimilar to the circle-the-wagon glow Herman Cain received when women from his past first cropped up.

This type of havoc-induced poll data may make for unpredictable outcomes, but it’s great political theater. Grab some popcorn and enjoy yourself this Saturday.

Withstanding the Heat

Mitt Romney is close to closing the deal.

After laying back early on while the competition carved themselves up, Romney finally flexed his bankroll in Iowa and won in a caucus squeaker. Then, he fulfilled the high expectations that experts bestowed on his campaign in New Hampshire. Since then, the former governor of Massachusetts has been ducking the poison arrows now flying at a furious pace as he campaigns in the next stop, South Carolina.

We first polled the Palmetto State last week and found Romney to be holding his own with a soft lead over Newt Gingrich. But in the last five days, Romney has been the subject of  focused vitriol for his business practices, religion, Massachusetts health care program, and his stance on…well…everything. The most intense carping has been reserved for Romney’s past role at Bain Capital. The attacks have been articulate and sharp edged, although may have lost some steam when it was exposed that a big heaping helping of the mud thrown was based on Bain’s activity after Romney left. Oops.

So how has Romney fared as the human dart board? We asked 989 South Carolina voters who told us they will vote in the upcoming Republican primary the same round of questions as last week. First, let’s look at the head-to-head results and compare the two dates:

Type: Automated - Date: 1/15/2012 - Participants: 989 Likely voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.12%
 1/10/121/15/12
Gingrich21%18%
Huntsman4%5%
Paul8%12%
Perry5%6%
Romney26%31%
Santorum13%9%
Undecided22%19%

Although he’s been under intense scrutiny this week, the body blows Romney has been receiving are failing to leave a mark. He continues to inch up, and now be impossible to stop absent any true blockbuster headline. Like last week (and as we did in our final Iowa poll), we also asked our participants who they think will ultimately be the GOP nominee for president without regard to their personal choice. Here are the results from last week and Sunday night:

 1/10/121/15/12
Gingrich17%15%
Huntsman2%3%
Paul5%7%
Perry4%4%
Romney48%52%
Santorum8%7%
Undecided15%13%

For the first time since asking the “ultimate winner” question, Romney has broken through the 50 percent ceiling. Empirical evidence abounds that Democrats are now believing that Romney will be The One, as operatives big and small (including ubber-operative David Axelrod) are picking up the Republican naysayers mantra about Bain Capital. Still, the Romney train is chugging on up the hill as this competition keeps coming up short. With Jon Huntsman allegedly dropping out of the race and endorsing Romney, a solid win in South Carolina followed by a victory in Florida would probably make his ultimate victory inevitable.

If the GOP primaries were an opera, a caloric-challenged diva may be clearing her voice and getting ready to sing.

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NOTE: This poll was paid for by We Ask America Polls™. The information has not been shared with any public official, candidate, cause or campaign.

Mitt-Out a Doubt?

According to Conventional Wisdom, New Hampshire’s primary tonight (which we skipped to avoid the crowd and concentrate on other areas) will provide GOP frontrunner-in-waiting, Mitt Romney, with his second straight win and a chance to begin fulfilling pundits’ prophecies pointing to his ultimate victory. If the Granite State is his true launch pad, then South Carolina will offer the opportunity for Romney to start leaving other GOP hopefuls in the dust. But Romney’s numbers in the Granite State are slowly ratcheting down as he finally becomes the pincushion in the lead. Attack ads have, naturally, taken over the New Hampshire airwaves and the blogosphere. Some of those ads have legitimate points, while some…well…are just bizarre. Our favorite: the one that accuses Romney of starting a business with a goal of – GASP —  making lots of money!

Now that Romney’s rope-a-dope strategy can no longer be used, those slings and arrows are having an effect, although most pundits think Romney will still prevail. If he wins with 30+ percent of the vote, the ensuing Primary in South Carolina may give him the octane to distance himself from the pack.

So, as the nation’s attention turns northeast, we turned our attention to the bucolic regions of the Palmetto State where we asked 993 likely voters in the South Carolina GOP primary two main questions:

  1. If the GOP primary election for president were held today, for whom would you vote?
  2. No matter who you’re for, which candidate do you think ultimately be the GOP nominee?

Here are the results:

Type: Automated - Date: 1/9/2012 - Participants: 993 Likely voters - Margin of Error: ± 3.11%
CandidatePersonally SupportUltimate Winner
Gingrich21%17%
Huntsman4%2%
Paul8%5%
Perry5%4%
Romney26%48%
Santorum13%8%
Undecided22%15%

Clearly, Romney has made great strides in South Carolina–aided in part by an endorsement from that state’s popular governor and the continued underlying belief that his victory may be inevitable. Here’s how each candidate’s supporters responded to the “who will ultimately win” question in the crosstab below. (Here’s how to read the table: left to right, the first row indicates that 61% of the people who say they support Newt Gingrich think that Newt will indeed be the ultimate winner, while 1 percent of those Gingrich supporters think that Huntsman will ultimately win, and 2 percent think Ron Paul will win…and so on.) Here’s the table:

 Ultimate Choice
Personal Choice (below)GingrichHuntsmanPaulPerryRomneySantorumUncertain
Gingrich61%1%2%1%27%3%4%
Huntsman3%26%6%0%54%3%9%
Paul4%0%38%5%44%2%7%
Perry8%0%2%38%33%10%10%
Romney2%1%1%0%93%1%2%
Santorum12%2%2%2%32%46%4%
Uncertain8%0%2%3%29%2%55%

As we’ve seen in Iowa and as others have measured throughout the nation, Romney is increasingly being viewed among the GOP as the one who will prevail. True, if there’s a surprise in New Hampshire, shifts can quickly occur in South Carolina, so we’ll revisit here soon.

But for now, Romney is hoping that tonight will finally tip over that domino that starts a chain reaction to victory.

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NOTE: This poll was paid for by We Ask America Polls™. The information has not been shared with any public official, candidate, cause or campaign.