Newt Gingrich’s momentum is continuing to build, and he now leads Mitt Romney by over 25 points in both Florida and Montana. In Florida Gingrich is at 47% to 17% for Romney, 15% for Herman Cain, 5% for Ron Paul, 4% for Michele Bachmann, 3% for Jon Huntsman, 2% for Rick Perry, 1% for Rick Santorum, and 0% for Gary Johnson. In Montana Gingrich is at 37% to 12% for Paul, 11% for Romney, 10% for Bachmann and Cain, 5% for Perry, 3% for Huntsman, and 1% for Johnson and Santorum.
These two states really exemplify one of the key emerging trends in the Republican race- Gingrich isn’t just rising, Romney’s also falling. His 17% in Florida is down 13 points from 30% when we polled the state in late September. His 11% in Montana is down 11 points from 22% when we polled the state in June. In addition to his support for the nomination, Romney’s personal popularity is down too. His Florida favorability was +43 (65/22) and it’s declined 28 points to +15 (51/36). He’s dropped in Montana too although it’s a more modest change there from +11 (47/36) to only +5 (44/39). The biggest reason for Newt Gingrich’s rise is that he’s picked up the voters of Herman Cain and Rick Perry as their campaigns have fallen apart. But these numbers make it pretty clear he’s doing more than that- some of Mitt Romney’s ‘25%’ is starting to fall off and move toward Newt as well. The magnitude of Gingrich’s leads now is an indication that he’s appealing to every segment of the Republican electorate. He’s up with the Tea Party in both states (53% to 24% for Cain and 7% for Romney in Florida, 42% to 18% for Bachmann, 13% for Cain, 10% for Paul, and 5% for Romney in Montana.) But he’s winning over party moderates as well (33% to 22% for Romney in Florida, 31% to 17% for Romney in Montana.) Gingrich’s favorability in Florida is 72/21 and in Montana it’s 65/23. You don’t attain those kinds of numbers without having a lot of appeal to every faction in the party.
Gingrich’s strength in Florida points to one of the aspects of his candidacy that hasn’t received a ton of attention yet: his appeal to senior citizens. Florida has one of the oldest Republican electorates in the country and with voters over 65 he’s at 54%. That sort of support from seniors has become the rule for Newt in our polls.
Don’t forget to watch Newt on Hannity tonight at 9pm EST! 🙂