Last Monday, I warned that Mitt Romney could get burned in Florida. A new NBC News-Marist poll released yesterday reveals that the premature dancing in the end zone of the Romney campaign in the New York Times might be warranted. The former Massachusetts governor’s firewall — a.k.a. Florida — appears secure.
The flame-throwing and bombast of Newt Gingrich were no match for the two-pronged strategy implemented by Team Romney mere hours after the candidate’s stunning defeat in the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21. According to the Times, the plan was to “make Newt mad and Mitt meaner.” Looks like it’s working. Romney leads Gingrich 42 percent to 27 percent, a commanding 15-point margin.
So, all that stuff I wrote about Romney cruising for a bruising because he was viewed as a moderate/liberal in a state of self-identified conservative voters? Just forget it. The NBC News-Marist poll shows that everybody loves Romney.
With votes already in the bank, Romney — 49% — leads Gingrich — 27% — among early and absentee Republican primary voters in Florida.
Romney’s best groups include likely Republican primary voters who are not Tea Party supporters — 52% — those who identify themselves as liberal or moderate — 49% — those who are just conservative — 47% — and likely Republican primary voters who earn $75,000 or more — 49%.
Among Evangelical Christians, Romney has 34% to 28% for Gingrich and 25% for [Rick] Santorum.
Romney — 45% — leads Gingrich — 32% — among likely Republican primary voters who think electability is the most important candidate quality.
When it comes to those who want a candidate who has the same positions on the issues, Romney — 36% — is ahead of Gingrich — 24%.
Among those who want a candidate who shares their values, Romney receives 37% to 29% for Santorum. Gingrich garners 17%.
Among likely Republican primary voters who value experience. Romney — 46% — outpaces Gingrich — 33%.
Well, not everyone loves Romney. Herman Cain, who has shown a love of self rivaling Narcissus, withdrew his endorsement of “the people” and gave it to Gingrich on Saturday. And Sarah Palin lately has been wrapping Gingrich in a Mama Grizzly bear hug against those who would attack him. But the Christian Science Monitor asks the right question about these Tea Party darlings: “Do they still have political clout?” We’ll find out tomorrow night. Still, with Tea Party supporters favoring Gingrich over Romney by just two points (36 percent to 34 percent), it might not matter.