Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney holds a strong lead in a new poll for the Jan. 31 Florida primary. The former Massachusetts governor has 46 percent support among likely GOP primary voters, according to the Sunshine State News poll conducted by Voter Survey Service (VSS)
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich placed second with 20 percent, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 12 percent, Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 9 percent, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry with 3 percent.
The poll's margin of error is plus/minus 2.75 percentage points.
“Romney is the clear favorite, and you’d have to conclude he even has a shot to win 50 percent of the GOP vote, depending on what happens in South Carolina,” VSS president Jim Lee told Sunshine State News.
“His media saturation of the Florida airways is clearly having an impact, and, based on what I have learned, he is staying on message by talking about spending and deficits — two issues GOP voters care about.”
Lee said Romney’s ads have succeeded in portraying him as an outsider running against Washington insiders Gingrich and Santorum. That’s a wise strategy, given voters’ current antipathy toward Washington.
“At the same time, he [Romney] is defining his opponents even before voters have a chance to learn more about their positive attributes,” Lee said. “This means we’re unlikely to see any of the anti-Romney candidates surging, unless one of them can generate momentum from a strong South Carolina showing and/or reshape the race with effective paid TV ads.”
Romney should benefit in Florida from the withdrawal of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, the poll shows. Asked to name their No. 2 choice, 34 percent of Huntsman supporters selected Romney, 17 percent opted for Paul, 13 percent chose Gingrich, 11 percent opted for Santorum, and zero named Perry.
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