Bad news for Mitt Romney: after being subtly hammered by the president during yesterday’s State of the Union, releasing his embarrassing tax records and losing South Carolina’s primary last weekend, the former GOP frontrunner is trailing far behind a surprisingly resurgent Newt Gingrich in Florida.
A new Quinnipiac University survey shows Gingrich has a favorability of about 40% of Florida’s Republican voters, while Romney has only 34%. This may not seem like an insurmountable gap, but that same polling institute gave Romney a 12 point lead just two weeks ago, Central Florida News reports.
Another recent poll, an ABC News and Washington Post analysis released Tuesday, shows a similar trend: independents and Republicans both are turning against Romney.
Among independents, Romney’s unfavorable rating now tops 50 percent — albeit by a single point — a first in Post-ABC polling back to 2006. Just two weeks ago, more independents had favorable than unfavorable views of Romney; now, it’s 2 to 1 negative.
Among his fellow Republicans, negative ratings have jumped from 18 to 32 percent. (Prior to his Iowa performance, Romney’s unfavorable number had been higher than 18, but hadn’t been in the 30s among Republicans since early 2008.)
Gingrich is fairly close to Romney in terms of favorability among Republican voters: 58% have a favorable opinion of Romney, while Gingrich is a mere three points behind at 55%. But Republican voters are only one piece of the puzzle. If Romney can’t boost himself among independents, then he’ll face an uphill battle going into the nomination. And other polls show he’ll have to work hard to win back those voters.
Via Talking Points Memo:
Public Policy Polling (D) also showed a spike in unfavorability among independents. A small deficit of eight points in December doubled to sixteen in January, at 38 – 54. And other data shows just how fast Romney’s more general crash in favorability came about as the first actual votes of the primary season were cast. CNN and Fox numbers showed an near-even split on both general favorability and amongst independents directly after his New Hampshire primary win. A week later Pew showed him down on the metric 33 – 47.
This is all of course good news for Gingrich, for whom a win in Florida next week would help cement his place at the party’s frontrunner, though perhaps bad for the Republican Party.
Obama’s approval ratings have been on the rise — ABC and WaPo found he’s risen 11 points over the past month; six of those points come from independents — and a CBS News poll found that while Obama’s tied with Romney in a hypothetical November challenge, he’s a whopping 11-points ahead of potential nominee Gingrich.
The constant criticism of Romney’s business background and personal wealth are clearly turning off voters, and as he heads into Florida, he’s going to have to find a way to change the narrative, and fast. If not, the Republican Party is going to have to find a way to make Gingrich, a renowned cry baby, more palatable.
Image via The Spokesman-Review.