Quinnipiac poll of Florida: Romney 36%, Gingrich 24%, Santorum 16%, Paul 10%

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With 36 percent of Florida Republican likely primary voters, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a double-digit lead three weeks before the nation’s first big-state presidential primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.  But 54 percent of GOP primary voters say they still might change their mind.

Twelve points back in the Republican pack is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 24 percent, followed by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 16 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey finds.  Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul is at 10 percent with 5 percent for Texas Gov. Rick Perry and 2 percent for former ambassador Jon Huntsman.   This first look at likely primary voters, a more select group, can’t be compared with earlier surveys of registered voters.

There is almost no gender gap in the primary selections.

“Gov. Mitt Romney has a double-digit lead in Florida among likely primary voters.  But the primary is three weeks away and the results from New Hampshire and South Carolina could shake things up in the Sunshine State,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “With more than half of voters saying they might change their minds and more than 50 percent of them backing candidates perceived as more conservative, Romney could be vulnerable if those voters settle on one candidate.”

Romney is the best-liked candidate among Florida likely GOP primary voters, with a 73 – 14 percent favorability rating.  Santorum gets a 59 – 8 percent favorability, while 33 percent of likely voters don’t know enough about him to form an opinion. Gingrich gets a 59 – 29 percent favorability, while Paul has a negative 34 – 47 percent favorability.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.