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Mitt Romney back in the lead in Florida

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Mitt Romney has regained his frontrunner status in the Florida primary, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

The poll shows that, even before Thursday’s debate in which Romney appeared to get the better of Newt Gingrich, the former Massachusetts governor had opened up a substantial lead in the state’s primary Tuesday.

It gives Romney a 9-point lead, 38 percent to 29 percent, and suggests a troubling trajectory for Gingrich’s campaign. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum follow at 14 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

The poll shows Romney has significantly better personal favorability numbers than Gingrich, whom 38 percent of Republican primary voters view in a negative light. Gingrich’s favorable/unfavorable split is 50/38, while Romney’s is 61/28.

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The poll showed just 6 percent of voters are undecided and 32 percent said they might change their mind by Tuesday — including nearly one-third of Romney supporters. So there is some wiggle room down the stretch.

Previously, a CNN/Time/Opinion Research poll conducted Sunday through Tuesday showed Gingrich performing much worse on Monday and Tuesday than he did on Sunday — the day after his win in South Carolina’s primary.

Romney held a double-digit lead in Florida prior to the surge that won South Carolina for Gingrich. But some polling showed Romney losing that lead briefly over the weekend.

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