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January 27, 2012

Florida poll: Mitt Romney opens up a lead over Newt Gingrich

With four days left before Florida's presidential primary, a new poll finds Mitt Romney opening up a considerable lead over Newt Gingrich -- 38 percent to 29 percent.

The pre-debate poll compares to a Jan. 25 survey by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University that showed the race in a statistical dead heat: Romney at 36 percent to Gingrich's 34 percent. The poll also had Texas Rep. Ron Paul at 14 percent, followed by former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum at 12 percent.

The poll suggests that it's men who are changing their minds: In today's poll, men back Romney 36 percent to 29 percent, compared to backing Gingrich 37 percent to 33 percent just a few days ago. Romney continues to lead 40 percent to 30 percent among women, a number that's virtually unchanged.

Gingrich's momentum from his South Carolina trouncing appears to have stalled, and "Romney seems to be pulling away in Florida," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the university's polling institute. He noted that Romney also has a higher favorability rating from likely primary voters.

He says the race is far from over: Three in 10 voters say they still might change their mind. But with no more debates scheduled before Tuesday: "Gingrich will need some other way to reverse the tide that appears to be going against him," Brown said.

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