Florida poll puts Romney up two points over ...

Maybe that P5 straw poll in Florida had more significance than some thought.  A new poll by Survey USA of likely Florida primary voters shows Mitt Romney ahead in the GOP nomination race at 27%, but the second-place finisher comes within the margin of error — and it’s not Rick Perry:

In the Florida Republican Primary for President, Mitt Romney at 27% edges Herman Cain at 25%, according to a SurveyUSA poll conducted for WFLA-TV Tampa. Rick Perry finishes 3rd with 13%, others further back. The Primary is tentatively, and controversially, scheduled for 4 months from today, on 01/31/12,

Romney is strong among older voters, women, moderates and in Southeast Florida. Cain is strong among men, younger voters, Tea Party members, affluent voters and in Northeast Florida. Perry is strong among those who say they are “very conservative,” among those who attend religious services regularly, among Evangelicals and in Northwest Florida.

Newt Gingrich at 6%, and Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul at 5%, effectively tie for 4th place. Jon Huntsman, in 7th place, finishes ahead of Rick Santorum.

Survey USA has a lot more credibility than Zogby’s online interactive polls do, and Florida is a significant state.  This survey took place Saturday through Tuesday, and SUSA culled 500 likely voters from almost 1400 responses on both landlines and cellphones.  I’d be interested to see how the general-survey numbers turned out, and how each day’s tally worked out.  Even apart from that, though, Herman Cain obviously made a big impression on Florida voters in the debate as well as at the straw poll.

Cain ended up winning a couple of key demographics, especially the age demos of 35-49 and 50-64, leading Romney by double digits in each.  Romney won seniors handily, 34/19 over Cain.  Cain won Hispanic voters 22/16 over Romney.  Cain won men (32/22) and Romney won women (31/17).  Not surprisingly, Cain also won self-identified Tea Party voters, although not by as much as one might think at 34/26. Romney won the lower- and middle-income voters, but Cain edged him among those making more than $80K, 28/27.

Rick Perry did surprisingly poorly in this survey.  He only got 13% for a distant third, barely ahead of the undecideds at 12%, but well ahead of the second tier. Perry didn’t seriously challenge in any of the demographic categories, finishing at less than half of the Tea Party support Cain got (34/16).  Perry’s not the only candidate to do poorly in Florida, either; Michele Bachmann finished at 5% overall and 4% among Tea Party voters, trailing Newt Gingrich in both categories at 6% and 8%, respectively.

At least for the moment, Herman Cain’s momentum is real — in Florida, and that’s no small feat.

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