I know what you’re thinking: “Didn’t Jazz already blog the new giant-lead-for-Gingrich-in-Florida poll?” Actually, no — that was a different poll, conducted by Insider Advantage. This new one comes from PPP. We’ve now got two separate surveys showing Newt Gingrich — Newt Gingrich — above 40 percent in a key battleground state with Romney 20+ points behind.
Come on now. We’re not really going to do this, are we?
In addition to his support for the nomination, Romney’s personal popularity is down too. His Florida favorability was +43 (65/22) and it’s declined 28 points to +15 (51/36). He’s dropped in Montana too although it’s a more modest change there from +11 (47/36) to only +5 (44/39)…
The magnitude of Gingrich’s leads now is an indication that he’s appealing to every segment of the Republican electorate. He’s up with the Tea Party in both states (53% to 24% for Cain and 7% for Romney in Florida, 42% to 18% for Bachmann, 13% for Cain, 10% for Paul, and 5% for Romney in Montana.) But he’s winning over party moderates as well (33% to 22% for Romney in Florida, 31% to 17% for Romney in Montana.) Gingrich’s favorability in Florida is 72/21 and in Montana it’s 65/23. You don’t attain those kinds of numbers without having a lot of appeal to every faction in the party…
As strong as Gingrich is in these polls there’s still evidence he could get stronger. Despite his troubles this week, which voters may not yet be fully aware of, Cain hit double digits on both of these polls. If his declining support bottoms out after the newest set of revelations, Gingrich will be the beneficiary. 45% of Cain voters in Florida say he is their second choice to only 13% for Romney and in Montana Cain backers prefer Newt over Romney 35-11 as a back up.
How strong is the sudden surge of Newtmania? Dude:
The only good news for Romney is that he stands to inherit most of Gingrich’s voters if Newt crumbles, but since there’s already a Cain crumble in progress and Newt stands to mop up most of those votes, the Gingrich implosion would have to be truly cataclysmic to make Florida safe for Mitt before the primary. Another reason he’s doing especially well in Florida is seniors: He was more than 20 points better than his closest competitor among the 65+ crowd in CNN’s latest national poll and PPP’s got him above 54 percent in its new one. We all know what senior turnout is like so he should have no problem getting people to the polls against Romney. He joked this morning at an event in South Carolina that he “only” wants the 65 percent of Republicans that haven’t already committed to Romney or Ron Paul. The way he’s going in Florida, he might get it.
Now, serious question: How is it we’ve landed on Newt instead of taking a second look at Perry? Perry’s last few debates have been fine and he’s spent months groveling to make amends for calling his immigration critics heartless. And of course he’s still got that glamorous Texas jobs record to wield against Obama in the general if he makes it that far. He’s down to almost an asterisk in PPP’s Florida poll, though — just two percent, a point behind Huntsman, after peaking at 24 percent there just two months ago. His favorable rating is an almost unimaginable 27/55, which is right in line with other recent eyepopping surveys. How did we arrive in a universe where there’s an almost 50-point spread in likability between Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich? Isn’t Newt the guy who was a big Donald Berwick fan before being a Donald Berwick fan was decidedly uncool? Wasn’t he way ahead of the curve in pushing health-care ideas like the mandate that conservatives are now ready to destroy Romney for? Didn’t he spend a chunk of the last decade lobbying, in consummate “insider” fashion, and then lamely trying to pretend that it wasn’t, you know, lobbying-lobbying? Hasn’t he been the tea party’s public enemy number one more than once, having endorsed Dede Scozzafava in that special election in New York and then dumping on Paul Ryan’s budget this summer? What about this cavalcade of Newt’s bright ideas that Jim Geraghty spent the morning compiling? Via the Daily Caller, listen to the Mark Steyn clip below for a gloss on that. And yet, and yet, thanks to his surge among Republicans, he’s now viable enough to lead Obama head-to-head and stands a not insignificant chance of running the table in the early states. How did it come to this? Exit quotation: “Whereas I would have thought originally it was going to be Mitt and not-Mitt, I think it’s going to — it may turn out to be Newt and not-Newt.”