Trend: Romney ahead in Florida in new CNN poll too

This makes three new polls showing him either tied with Newt or back in the lead after Gingrich’s big post-South Carolina surge. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has them even at 33 percent and Tina blogged the ARG poll earlier showing Romney with a seven-point lead. CNN puts it closer than that, but Romney will consider this a moral victory: He seems to have stopped the bleeding, at least.

According to the poll, 36% of people likely to vote in Tuesday’s Republican primary in the Sunshine State say they are backing Romney as the party’s nominee, with 34% supporting Gingrich. The former Massachusetts governor’s two point margin over the former House speaker is well within the survey’s sampling error…

The new survey was conducted Sunday through Tuesday, after the Palmetto State primary, and mostly before and partially after Monday night’s Republican presidential debate in Tampa, where in a role reversal, Romney aggressively attacked Gingrich.

On Sunday, the day after Gingrich won big in South Carolina, he was at 38% in Florida, with Romney at 36%, Santorum at 11% and Paul at 8%. Looking only at Monday and Tuesday’s results, Romney was at 38%, Gingrich 29% Santorum at 11% and Paul at 9%.

Looks like Mitt’s Freddie Mac attacks at the last debate were more effective than we thought. Romney’s now back above 60 percent on InTrade as a favorite to win Florida after having dipped below 40 percent yesterday. (Newt, conversely, now enjoys odds of just 38.9 percent.) Those InTrade numbers are being driven entirely by today’s polling news as far as I can tell, which reminds me that it’s, er, kind of stupid to cite InTrade for anything, even as I’m doing it right now. It’s vaguely interesting as a snapshot of conventional wisdom at any given moment, but in theory InTrade was supposed to be a leading indicator of momentum shifts as savvy insiders quietly placed bets according to what they expected was about to happen. Instead, it’s basically just a poll barometer: If Rasmussen shows Romney up five points tomorrow, his InTrade numbers will bump up to 80 percent and we’ll all ooooh and aaaah. Am I wrong about that and there’s more to the IT figures than I assume? Let me know in the comments.

Two reasons to think there may yet be another turn in Florida before Tuesday. One: Santorum’s apparently giving up on the state, which is good news for Newt as he scrambles for Not Romney votes. Two: Newt told Laura Ingraham yesterday that his strategy on Monday night was to show viewers how desperate Romney was by letting him attack “until he disgusted people.” (Click here and listen at 2:05 and then 9:05.) Whether you believe that or not, Gingrich assured her that his approach tomorrow night would be different, so if aggressive Newt shows up, he might be in for the same sort of eleventh-hour bump that he got after the Carolina debates. Two clips for you here, then, looking ahead to tomorrow — one of Round Two between John King and Gingrich and the other of Romney further endearing himself to the base by criticizing Newt for dumping on the moderators. If it happens again tomorrow, I wonder if Romney won’t pipe up and call Gingrich out on his grandstanding to try to neutralize the next big Newt bump before it gets going. He’s got a devastating line of attack all ready to go, thanks to Philip Klein. Click the image to watch.

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