Poll: Gingrich Would Still Lose Florida If Santorum Dropped Out

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  • Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista
    (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
    Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista bow their heads in prayer before a rally in The Villages, Florida January 29, 2012.
  • Newt Gingrich supporters in Florida
    (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
    People say the Pledge of Allegiance before a Newt Gingrich rally in Jacksonville, Florida January 30, 2012.
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By Napp Nazworth, Christian Post Reporter
January 30, 2012|2:39 pm

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich recently suggested that he would win the Florida primary against Mitt Romney if Rick Santorum dropped out of the race. A recent poll indicates this is not the case. The poll also shows that Romney gets strong support among conservatives, Tea Party supporters and evangelicals.

"The fact is, when you combine the Santorum vote and the Gingrich vote ... the conservative combined would clearly beat Romney," Gingrich said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

A recent NBC/Marist poll shows that if Santorum dropped out of the Florida primary his supporters would not "combine" with Gingrich, who trails Romney by about 15 percentage points in Florida. Romney would get the same amount of support (35 percent) as Gingrich (36 percent) among those whose first choice is Santorum (margin of error is 4.4 percentage points). (Sixteen percent would support Ron Paul and 14 percent would be undecided.)

The poll also shows that Romney would get majority support from Gingrich supporters (55 percent) and Paul supporters (43 percent) if either one of those candidates dropped out of the Florida race.

Gingrich describes himself as the conservative candidate in the race and he received strong support among evangelicals and Tea Party supporters in his South Carolina primary victory. In Florida though, his support among these groups has dwindled.

The poll shows that Romney has a plurality of support among evangelicals and conservatives, and is tied with Gingrich for the votes of Tea Party supporters.

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Thirty-four percent of evangelicals said they would vote for Romney, while 28 percent support Gingrich, 25 percent support Santorum and seven percent support Paul.

Those who said they were conservative or very conservative were more likely to support Romney (39 percent) than Gingrich (31 percent), Santorum (20 percent) or Paul (seven percent).

Tea Party supporters split their support evenly between Gingrich (36 percent) and Romney (34 percent). Santorum received the support of 22 percent of Tea Party supporters and Paul got six percent.

Likely Florida Republican primary voters who said they were all three – Tea Party supporters, conservative and evangelical – split their support evenly between Gingrich (31 percent), Romney (29 percent) and Santorum (30 percent).

Gingrich does well, though, among those who say they "strongly" support the Tea Party (40 percent) and those who say they are "very conservative" (36 percent).

Gingrich also won the Florida Tea Party Patriots straw poll on Sunday. The Tea Party organization held a teleconference with the candidates (Paul did not attend) Sunday night. Gingrich won 35 percent of the vote from its 600 members who participated. Santorum came in second with 31 percent, followed by Romney (18 percent) and Paul (11 percent).

Santorum canceled his campaign appearances and interviews on Sunday because his 3-year-old daughter, Bella, was in the hospital. Bella has Trisomy 18, a genetic disorder.

Santorum has not given any indication that he plans on dropping out of the race, but he has stopped campaigning in Florida ahead of the Tuesday primary. He has campaign stops scheduled in four states –Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado and Nevada – on Monday and Tuesday.

Gingrich has been criticized for suggesting that Santorum leave the race on the same day Santorum was dealing with his hospitalized daughter. Romney, by contrast, put out a message of support for the Santorums.

Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin contacted the Gingrich campaign and asked if Gingrich regretted making the suggestion and not expressing support for the Santorums during their difficult time. She was told that a message was sent privately, but the Santorum campaign said they received no such message.

The NBC/Marist poll of 3,141 Floridians was conducted Jan. 25 through Jan. 27. The sample included 682 likely Republican primary voters, which were used for the cross-tabulations cited in this article.

Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com
 

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