Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Newt Gingrich surge, first written about on CBSMiami.com last week, has helped the former Speaker of the House erase the double-digit lead once held by Mitt Romney.
According to a new Quinnpiac University poll, Gingrich and Romney are in a statistical tie among likely Florida primary voters.
Romney received 36 percent of the voters, compared to Gingrich’s 34 percent. The tally is well within the margin of error for the poll of +/- 6 percent.
However, when voters were surveyed after the South Carolina primary, Gingrich’s lead increased to 40 percent to Romney’s 34 percent.
Those numbers were outside the margin of error for voters surveyed after South Carolina, which was +/- 5 percent.
Just two weeks ago, Quinnipiac found that Romney led Gingrich 36-24 percent.
“Florida is essentially a dead heat and a two-man race between Gov. Mitt Romney and Speaker Newt Gingrich entering the last week of the campaign,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Romney received high marks from registered Republicans when asked which candidate would do the best job of handling the economy.
Gingrich received high marks from likely Republican Florida voters when asked which candidate would handle foreign policy the best, and handling a crisis.
However, deeper in the poll numbers, there’s a big contrast amongst Republican voters when it comes to trying to beat Barack Obama in the general election.
Nearly half of Florida Republicans said Romney has the best chance of beating Obama, compared to just 35 percent saying Gingrich could beat Obama.
Overall, Republican voters didn’t care if a candidate shared their values or what the specific policy pitches were, so long as the candidate could beat President Obama.