Looks like Newt is leading in most early polls before the debate and PPP had Newt up by 6 a day before the South Carolina primary, where he won by more than twice that.
Gingrich has gained 12 points since a PPP poll conducted in Florida a week ago. Romney has dropped 8 points. Paul and Santorum have pretty much remained in place. Their favorability numbers show similar trendlines. Gingrich’s has increased 8 points from +15 (51/36) to +23 (57/34). Meanwhile Romney’s has declined 13 points from +44 (68/24) to +31 (61/30).
Here’s why that’s good news for Gingrich…
1) His supporters are more committed than Romney’s. 78% of his voters say they’ll definitely vote for him compared to 73% for Romney, and among folks whose minds are completely made up he leads by 9 points at 45-36.
2) If Rick Santorum drops out between now and next Tuesday, Gingrich will be the beneficiary. His voters prefer Gingrich over Romney 50-23, and in a field where he’s no longer a candidate Newt’s lead expands to 43-36.
3) Voters see him as better positioned ideologically than Romney. 52% think his views are ‘about right’ compared to 42% for Romney. Only 14% of voters think he’s ‘too liberal’ compared to 25% for Romney.
4) Newt is drawing out new voters. With the 11% of the electorate that didn’t vote in the 2008 primary, he leads 40-30. Meanwhile Romney is having trouble holding onto the folks who voted for him in 2008. 37% are supporting someone else this time, with 19% of them moving toward Gingrich. This was a big problem for Romney in Iowa as well- if he could just hold onto the folks who supported him last time he’d be winning easily. But he doesn’t inspire a passionate enough following to keep folks in the fold.
5) Newt’s continuing to do well with all the groups he dominated with in South Carolina. He’s up 42-23 with Evangelicals, 46-20 with Tea Partiers (Mitt’s actually in 3rd with them), 42-28 with men, and 44-23 with voters describing themselves as ‘very conservative,’ which is the largest ideological group in the Florida electorate.
More as it develops…