After a surprising showing in South Carolina, New Gingrich pulled way ahead of Mitt Romney, in pre-Florida Primary polling. But that sudden increase in numbers quickly eased off and Gingrich and Romney remained very close for a few days, with Romney a few points ahead. Over the last 36 hours, Romney has put significant distance between his candidacy and Gingrich’s, with Romney polling consistently above 40% and Gingrich consistanly double digits behind. Santorum is holding steady at 12-14%, and nobody cares about Ron Paul.
However, in comparing all of the candidates in polls asking people across the country which Republican they would vote for, Romney is NOT a clear winner. In fact, Gingrich tends to score a couple of points ahead of Romney. In one recent poll (NBC/Wall Street Journal) Gingrich was 9 points ahead. In the most recent poll (Gallup Tracking) Gingrich was just 2 points ahead.
But the preference for Gingrich does not align with national polls comparing the various republican candidates with Obama. In these polls, Romney tends to come closer to Obama’s lead than does Gingrich, who tends to get his ass whupped by the President, with Barack Obama showing a double-digit lead over the hapless and blithering ex-speaker.
But a lot can change in two days. Gingrich is on the attack against Romney, and his main point of attack seems to be to point out how Romney is on the attack against Gingrich. I don’t expect this to change the outcome of the Florida Primary. Romney will win there, although is it always possible that he will win by less than the current polls suggest. But what may happen over the longer term is a shift in the overall view of Gingrich and Romney by Republican voters in general. I expect there to be a downgrading of support for both “Front Runners” as they continue to slam each other. Santorum will come out a minor winner over the medium term, possibly even taking a state or two if his strategy is managed effectively and his money holds out.
Just for fun here’s Ron Paul’s attack ad ad d d attack attack ack ack ad d against Gingrich:
And here’s a video about Mitt Romney (this one’s been around a while):
And in Otter Matters:
Polling data from RealClearPolitics.