While former House speaker Newt Gingrich appears to be surging past all of his GOP presidential rivals in most of the latest polls, he still has more work ahead of him to catch President Barack Obama if the general election were held today.
Gingrich would have to overcome a 6-percent deficit in a head-to-head matchup against Obama, according to a Fox News poll released on Thursday. The poll shows Gingrich trailing the president by a margin of 46 to 40 percent.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has been trailing Gingrich in the polls with respect to the 2012 Republican nomination, came within just 2 points of Obama in a theoretical matchup. Romney has trailed Obama by a similar margin as Gingrich in multiple previous polls taken over the past year, but he enjoyed a 2-point advantage in a poll taken three weeks ago.
The polling results are at the edge of the margin of sampling error with respect to Gingrich and within the margin of sampling error with respect to Romney, acknowledges Fox, which also finds that 44 percent of voters think that Obama will be re-elected over 37-percent, who believe that an unspecified Republican challenger will defeat him.
Not surprisingly, some 69 percent of Democrats think that Obama will win the election as opposed to only 61 percent of Republicans who say that their still yet-to-be decided candidate will taste victory.
One surprising finding in the poll concerns a question as to whether voters might overlook an extramarital affair in a presidential candidate.
Most of the voters — some 64 percent — said they would support a qualified presidential candidate even if they had an affair in the past. Only about 26 percent of those surveyed said an affair “completely disqualifies” a candidate from getting their vote.
Some 68 percent of men, 61 percent of women 65 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats were willing to overlook an affair.
Among tea party voters, the percentage was even higher with 77 percent of those surveyed willing to overlook a marital indiscretion. Some 67 percent of independents also agreed that they would not rule out such a candidate.
About a quarter of independents do not support Obama, Gingrich or Romney, with Obama carrying a 1-point lead over Romney and a 5-point lead over Gingrich overall.
Independents who did not have a preference for any of the three were either undecided, would vote for someone else, or wouldn’t vote at all.
The nationwide telephone poll of 911 randomly chosen registered voters also finds that tea party voters are more likely to choose Gingrich over Romney against Obama by a margin of 77 percent to 70 percent.
The poll was conducted by Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) between Dec. 5-7 with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
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