Four days ago, just after the South Carolina Primary, Gingrich led Romney 41% to 32%. Less than two weeks earlier, coming off Romney’s decisive win in the New Hampshire Primary, it was Romney 41%, Gingrich 19% in Florida. Santorum’s and Paul’s support has remained largely the same throughout.
The latest results from Florida are a mirror image of the dynamic found a week ago in South Carolina. In the Palmetto State, the former House speaker was trailing by 14 points on Monday, but following a strong debate performance he had a two-point lead by Wednesday. That 16-point turnaround seemed stunning at the time. Now, in Florida, it’s Romney’s turn. He trailed by nine points in the Sunshine State on Sunday but enjoyed a 17-point comeback by Wednesday.
As GOP voters search for the candidate best equipped to defeat President Obama, perceptions of Romney’s electability have risen since earlier in the week. Four days ago, 42% of Florida primary voters said Gingrich would be the strongest candidate against Obama, while 39% felt that way about the former Massachusetts governor. Now 49% think Romney would be the strongest challenger versus 34% who believe that of Gingrich. Most still agree that Paul would be the weakest GOP nominee.