WaPo poll: Romney 35, Gingrich 17

posted at 8:40 am on January 17, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday’s Fox poll gave the first indication that Mitt Romney has suddenly broken through the ceiling of his polling support in 2011.  Today, the Washington Post poll corroborates that move, with a less-dramatic move upward.  In this case, it’s emphasized by the sharp decline in Newt Gingrich’s standing:

Mitt Romney holds a strong lead nationally in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, with a 2 to 1 advantage over his closest competitors, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Romney won the first two contests in the nominating process, and none of the other candidates has been able to demonstrate the broad, sustained support among the party’s conservative base that would translate into a successful challenge. An overwhelming majority of Republicans predict that he will be President Obama’s opponent in November. …

Romney wins the support of 35 percent of all Republicans and GOP-leaners nationwide, with former House speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) neck and neck with about half the support Romney enjoys. Former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.), who surged to a second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, checks in at 13 percent, his highest level of the campaign. Texas Gov. Rick Perry runs fifth, at 9 percent, rounding out a field that shrank Monday with the decision by former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. to quit the race and endorse Romney.

Unlike in the Fox poll, Romney’s support only rose five points, from 30 to 35, among the general population.  It went up six points among registered voters, and Gingrich and Paul tie at 16 in that subset.  A month ago, Gingrich scored 30 points among both, which means he’s lost about half of his support in the last few weeks.  Rick Santorum has been the main beneficiary, but some of it seems to have gone to Romney as well.

Voters in this poll still don’t have a firm grip on their decision.  Only 36% have definitely made up their mind on a candidate, with 60% saying they could change their mind yet.  Romney supporters, though, are more solid, with 43% locked into their choice and 53% saying that their vote could change.

There are a couple of curiosities in this survey, though, to keep in mind.  First, we don’t have much idea of the sample composition, and this is a series with a bad habit of skewing its sample.  The poll surveyed 1,000 adults, but we don’t know how many of them were actual Republican voters.  I’ve seen the WaPo/ABC poll sample consist of 25% or fewer Republican adults, let alone registered voters.  A sample size of 250 Republican adults, with fewer being registered voters, would not be a terribly reliable sample on which to rely for predictive modeling.  And why at this late stage of the primary is the WaPo/ABC poll still surveying the general population or registered voters?  Why not likely voters?


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A person that behaved as badly as Newt did last week, should not have had a chance to debate last night. What crazed ego he has. Oh what spirit to fight Barach Obama with, he’s shown he can fight. Ghastly!

I am pretty sure if the candidate is Newt, Barach Obama will not be debating him at all. Once? Twice?

And who would get on the ticket with Gingrich after the way he has behaved about capitalism and suspicion of Bain capital?

Some people have endorsed the good Character of Rick Santorum this weekend, and Newt did not get that endorsement…because he HAS no character.

Fleuries on January 17, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Maybe a few weeks ago having the also-rans drop out to allow their supporters to boost one non-Romney candidate might have helped, but now any time one of them drops out, their supporters are going to the winning team.

It’s too late.

mattshu on January 17, 2012 at 1:12 PM

I don’t think any of those other candidates (especially not the incompetent buffoon Rick Perry or the pompous, serial adulterer Newt Gingrich) ever had any chance against Romney. Romney has been the best all along, and nearly everyone knows it. He is obviously the best one to go up against and beat Obama.

Now the question is… who should Romney select as his VP running mate?

bluegill on January 17, 2012 at 4:37 PM

That debate last night was disgusting.

They allowed a supposed “debate” turn into a rally or an episode of Jerry Springer show with the audience hooting and hollering and booing. It was disgusting.
Jailbreak on January 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM

I totally agree. Everything you say here is true. Although I am generally a Fox News fan, I think they do a poor job with the debates.

Fox News has sullied their brand. They arent that trustworthy anymore. Any time the CUUUUUUUUDAAA is being interviewed, no intelligent questions are asked, no follow-up questions and they slobber over her. Did you see that Bolin clown or whatever his name is….the fool that is on The Five…interview Palin and he was saying “ooooh ooooh, its not too late Sarah oooooh oooooh you can still get in the race Sarah…..oooh oooh oh oh we need you sarah.

It was disgusting.

Fox News….maybe that nutcase Olbermann was right about them.

Jailbreak on January 17, 2012 at 10:35 AM

SO true. I saw that interview. It was a joke and was one long kissy kissy fest with Sarah Palin, who really had nothing useful or interesting to say. Really, does she ever? Also, that Eric Bolling guy is one of the worst at the network. I’ve always thought he seemed pretty stupid. What a surprise that he was apparently supporting Rick Perry!

A lot of them are embarrassed by their support for Obama but not so embarrassed that they would support someone who is idiotic enough to say we should fire the school janitors and replace them with children.

Basilsbest on January 17, 2012 at 11:27 AM

I’m a little surprised to see many commenters here thinking that Newt’s “put children to work as janitors” answer is going to turn the tide of the campaign in Newt’s favor. Oh, well. These deranged Romney haters on HotAir on going to get a wakeup call soon enough when the real votes come in. Turns out that Republicans want to go with a competent candidate (Romney) who will beat Obama. Who knew?

bluegill on January 17, 2012 at 4:57 PM

WARNING: Mhit-For-Brains, the lemming disease, WILL RESULT in 4 more years of Obastard II and the destruction of this America as we know it!?!

Colatteral Damage on January 17, 2012 at 5:01 PM