Gingrich over Romney 26-22 in new Quinnipiac poll

Newt Gingrich gets good and bad news from polls today, one taken nationally and the other in the key primary state of New Hampshire.  The national poll taken by Quinnipiac shows him doubling his support in the last three weeks to jump into the lead, 26/22, over Mitt Romney.  He bests Romney in a two-man race by a wider margin, but still hasn’t gained much traction against Barack Obama:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich more than doubles his share of the Republican presidential vote to lead the presidential pack with 26 percent and in a head-to-head matchup tops former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 49 – 39 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. But Romney is tied with President Barack Obama.

Former pizza magnate Herman Cain drops from the top spot with 30 percent in a November 2 national survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University to third place with 14 percent today. Romney goes from 23 percent November 2 to 22 percent.

Gingrich, who topped out at 10 percent 20 days ago, zooms to the top as he convinces 48 percent of GOP voters that among all GOP contenders he has the knowledge and experience necessary to be president, compared to Romney’s 22 percent. Gingrich leads Romney 34 – 24 percent when GOP voters are asked who is a strong leader, a key quality Americans historically seek in a president. On foreign policy, he is seen as better by GOP voters 46 – 16 percent. But Gingrich trails Romney 32 – 9 percent when voters are asked who has “a strong moral character.”

Basically, Gingrich gets the voters leaving the Cain train, while Romney doesn’t benefit at all.  Gingrich’s scores on the internals shows him to be a real threat to Romney’s position in the field as the “inevitable” nominee, but that is only true if Gingrich can survive the vetting process.  Almost by definition, people see the latest bubble candidate through rose-colored glasses; the test for Gingrich on these qualities will come in the next few weeks.  If he can maintain his advantage on these leadership qualities, that and his undeniable experience and debating expertise will make him a formidable opponent for Romney.

However, Gingrich still comes up short against Obama, although it’s early for such head-to-head comparisons.  The Q-poll topline number has Obama leading 49/40 over Gingrich, compared to 45/44 over Romney.  However, the D/R/I on this sample once again has a significant Democratic skew, with a D+7 and a D/R/I of 32/25/32.  This goes to a D+8 when leaners are added into the mix.  The actual turnout model in 2010 was 35/35/29, which shows just how far off this poll was from the last national election.  Properly weighted, the Q-poll head-to-head results would be 47/43 for Romney over Obama, and 46/43 Obama over Gingrich — much closer results, although independents give Obama a +10 in the Gingrich matchup.  Either way, it shows Obama in serious trouble, as statistical ties against Republicans in a divided field indicates a great deal of vulnerability.

Meanwhile, after a surprise poll result last week in New Hampshire by Magellan Strategies showed Newt Gingrich soaring into his own virtual tie with Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, two others today show him gliding back to Earth in the Granite State.  A Suffolk poll shows Romney leading as he has all along in New Hampshire at 41%, with Newt Gingrich tying with Ron Paul at 14%.  American Research Group’s survey in NH released today is a little better for Gingrich but still trailing by double digits, 33/22 behind Romney, with Paul the only other candidate in double digits with 12%.   The glimmer of hope for Gingrich in NH is that 52% of the likely Republican primary voters in the Suffolk poll say it’s either somewhat or very likely that they will change their minds — but that will still make beating Romney in NH a tall order for any other Republican challenger.