Everyday of this primary seems to last a week. As I sit down tonight to really plow through the public polling of the day, the Quinnipiac Florida Primary Poll, which hit my inbox around 6:00 AM, seems like a lifetime ago. Lots of numbers got tossed out there today, so I am going to try to make a little sense of it --- as much for my own edification as for yours!
Two polls came out today showing Romney with a two point lead. Quinnipiac shows Romney holding a 2 point lead (36-34) with Gingrich surging, and another CNN, also has it at 36-34, but with Romney surging. In truth, both could be nearly right, since the margin of error on they daily subgroups is very high. That being said, there is information in both is both good news and bad news, though as you will see, there are lots of things that should make Gingrichworld nervous.
Since Gingrich is the insurgent candidate in this case, I'll take a look at it from his perspective.
Good news for Gingrich
- In both polls, he is much better off than he was two weeks ago. The Q poll has Gingrich's vote share up 16 points, and Romney's down 7. That is a 23 point shift in a week. Last week Gingrich was going to get run out of Florida like UNC losing to Florida State. CNN also shows him growing, gaining ten points in the two weeks since their last poll.
- The Q poll also looked at a number of leadership traits, and by and large, Gingrich is creaming Romney. Voters think he is far better qualified to handle foreign policy questions (+27 over Romney), better prepared to handle a crisis (+15), and has the knowledge and experience to be President (+19).
- They also believe Gingrich are more competent (+3), and that is helping drive your surge. Since his South Carolina win, he's gone from a 10 point deficit to a 13 point lead in this category.
- He seems to be winning the is energy/enthusiasm battle on the ground. Gingrich will also a find himself in a much better position communication wise, with the Super PAC buy really kicking in over the last five days. No longer will the airwaves be left alone to Romney.
Bad News for Gingrich
- They like Romney better. Winning didn't do a lot for Gingrich favorables. In the Q poll, his favorables are 10 points less than Romney, and he has higher unfavorables. He also have a 12 point gender gap in his favorables among men (67) and women (55), while Romney is liked almost equally by both---which explains why women give Romney a seven point advantage, essentially driving his margin.
- They think Romney can win. The Q poll has Romney with a 14 point advantage, and while Gingrich have definitely moved the needle since South Carolina (voters after the primary only give him a +3 advantage, Gingrich still trails -- or at best are tied with him (PPP had it 37-37)
- And winning matters. "Defeating Obama" has an 8 point advantage over "Shares my Values" -- a margin that has grown slightly since the South Carolina primary.
- Finally, they trust Romney more on the economy, by a 17 point margin.
In the wash, it feels like Romney is in a better spot, though not by much. And with another debate on Thursday night, we could be looking at a very different race yet again come the weekend.