Mitt Romney fares better than Republican rival Newt Gingrich in a matchup against President Barack Obama among registered voters in the swing state of Florida, a Quinnipiac University poll shows.
Romney and Obama are tied in the Florida survey, each with 45 percent, while the president leads Gingrich, 50 percent to 39 percent.
The poll, released today, bolsters Romney’s argument that he is the most electable candidate among the Republican presidential contenders as Florida’s Jan. 31 primary approaches.
Independent voters are the key to Romney’s stronger showing against Obama in the poll. Romney is backed by 42 percent of Florida’s non-aligned voters to 41 percent for Obama, while the president leads Gingrich among this bloc, 50 percent to 33 percent, according to the survey.
“At least in Florida and at least at this point in the campaign, the data indicates that Governor Mitt Romney is clearly the stronger Republican candidate against President Barack Obama,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute in Hamden, Connecticut, said in a statement.
The survey was conducted Jan. 19-23, ending the day before Obama’s State of the Union address.
Poll for Primary
A Quinnipiac poll of likely primary voters taken over the same period showed a virtual dead heat between the two top Republicans: Romney had 36 percent support, Gingrich 34 percent.
The survey showed Gingrich benefiting from momentum following his 12-point win over Romney in South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary. Gingrich led Romney by 6 points among voters polled after the South Carolina contest, while Romney led by 11 points among voters surveyed before.
Former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum ran third in the primary poll with 13 percent, followed by U.S. Representative Ron Paul of Texas with 10 percent.
In the survey focused on the general election, both Santorum and Paul run slightly better against Obama than Gingrich. Obama leads Santorum, 49 percent to 40 percent. Against Paul, the president is backed by 47 percent, to 39 percent for the Texan.
Florida, with 29 electoral votes, is viewed by both parties as a central battleground in November’s general election. In the last four presidential elections, each party has carried it twice.
Obama won the state by 3 percentage points in 2008. Then- Texas Governor George W. Bush’s 537-vote victory in the state after a prolonged recount in 2000 won him the White House over Democrat Al Gore in 2000.
The poll of 1,518 registered voters gauging general election matchups has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. The error margin for the survey focused on the primary is plus or minus 4 points.
--Editors: Don Frederick, Jim Rubin.
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