Mitt Romney has opened a double-digit lead over Newt Gingrich in Florida as the perception grows among Republican primary voters that he is the strongest general election candidate against President Barack Obama, according to a new poll from Rasmussen Reports
The telephone survey of likely Florida Republican voters in the Sunshine State's primary on Tuesday, shows Romney up by 16 points, with 44 percent support. Former House Speaker Gingrich pulled 28 percent support.
The poll, conducted Saturday, reflects a significant turnaround during the past week, Rasmussen noted. On Jan. 22, just after Gingrich’s overwhelming win in the South Carolina Primary, he led Romney by nine. By the middle of the 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, Rasmussen’s analysis stated.
Former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum earned 12 percent support in the new poll, while Texas Congressman Ron Paul picks up 10 percent. One percent prefer some other candidate, and 5 percent are undecided.
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 percent believe that Romney is the strongest candidate against the president, while 29 percent believe Gingrich fits that role, Rasmussen found.
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