Throughout the GOP race, Romney has always benefited from the perception that he was the strongest general election candidate in the field. However, among Florida voters at the moment, that is no longer the case. Forty-two percent (42%) now believe Gingrich would be the strongest candidate against Obama, while 39% say the same of Romney.
Ed Morrissey digs into the cross tabs:
Gingrich gets the edge on national security by a wide margin, 54/23, probably due in part to his tough talk on, well, everything. Republican voters trust Romney more on managing the economy, 45/30, and they tie on social issues at 30% each. If this was supposed to be a cycle that was all about the economy, it’s remarkable that Romney isn’t doing better than Gingrich with a 15-point lead there and a tie on social issues. Is national security really that much of a worry about Romney?
Yesterday, Josh Marshall pointed out that Gingrich was almost 30 points ahead of Romney in Florida a little over a month ago:
[I]t’s no coincidence that Newt’s support rose faster and further in Florida than in any of the other four early states. It tells me Florida is ripe ground for Newt to do really well.
(Chart from TPM.)