PRINCETON, NJ -- Republican registered voters nationally continue to prefer Newt Gingrich over Mitt Romney for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, with no sign in Gallup Daily tracking from Jan. 22-26 that Gingrich is giving back any of his recent gains.
The 32% of Republican voters now choosing Gingrich as the candidate they are most likely to support for the nomination is his highest level of support since the 2012 primary voting began in early January. The 24% supporting Romney is his lowest.
Despite the heavy media focus on the two front-runners, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are each holding their own at just under 15%, putting the two men in a statistical tie for third.
As the Jan. 31 Florida primary nears, Gingrich remains at the top of the GOP field in national Republican preferences for the nomination, and his eight-percentage-point lead over Romney, in second place, is his widest since mid-December.
Gingrich's latest eclipsing of Romney occurred in Gallup Daily tracking from Jan. 19-23. That interviewing period spanned the South Carolina debate, as well as the South Carolina primary, which Gingrich handily won. Since then, Gingrich has not only maintained the lead but expanded it slightly, indicating that Romney's sharpened rhetoric, combined with various attacks on Gingrich by such major Republican Party figures as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Bob Dole, hasn't been particularly harmful.
Given the swings in voter support that Gallup has already documented after the Iowa caucuses -- with Romney, the then-presumed winner of Iowa, surging -- and after the South Carolina primary, with Gingrich surging, the outcome in Florida Tuesday would appear to have more potential than the political theater happening outside of the primaries to shake things up yet again in this already turbulent race.
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Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 22-26, 2012, with a random sample of 1,184 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who are registered to vote, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of registered Republicans, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of respondents for five nights on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.