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Mitt Romney takes a double-digit lead into the home stretch in Florida

at 08:09 AM ET, 01/30/2012

Mitt Romney enters the final full day of campaigning in the Florida Republican primary with a 14-point lead, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

The poll shows Romney expanding on his lead from midweek last week by five points and suggests he’s a strong favorite to win on Tuesday.

The poll has the former Massachusetts governor at 43 percent, with former House speaker Newt Gingrich at 29 percent. Romney’s number is up five points from a Quinnipiac poll a few days before, while Gingrich stayed where he was. (The newer poll was conducted Friday through Sunday.)

Romney’s lead looks pretty safe.

First, more than half a million voters have already cast their ballots via early voting, and Romney has held a wide lead in the polls for much of that time.

Second, the poll shows 77 percent of Romney’s supporters say they are definitely voting for him, suggesting it would take something major for him to fall from his perch atop the polls.

And third, Gingrich’s unfavorable rating continues to rise, moving from 38 percent last week to 42 percent in the new poll. Slightly more than half of likely primary voters view him favorably.

Romney’s image, by contrast, has improved in the past few days, moving from 61 percent positive and 28 percent negative to 64 percent positive and 25 percent negative.

Perhaps most illustrative: The poll shows Romney leading among evangelical voters — a group that he has struggled mightily to woo in previous contests.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum are tied for third place at 11 percent.

Other polls released over the weekend showed Romney with a similar double-digit lead.

 
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