If Newt Gingrich ends up with the GOP nomination he owes Juan Williams a major thank you gift. In a national Rasmussen poll taken on Tuesday (the day after the Myrtle Beach debate), the former Speaker of the House jumped to within 3% points of Mitt Romney (well within the margin of error).
The latest Rasmussen Reports survey of likely GOP primary voters nationwide shows Romney with 30% support and Gingrich with 27% of the vote. Gingrich jumped by 11% points since the last poll. Much of his new support came from Former Rick Santorum, who fell by 6% from two weeks ago (from 21% to 15%).
Texas Congressman Ron Paul captures 13% support from likely primary voters (he might have done better if the poll was taken during a full moon), and Texas Governor Rick Perry still hasn’t connected with voters as he is last at 4%.
The poll taken two weeks ago was at the beginning of the Bain Capital nonsense, now that he has eased up on that tactic, Gingrich’s favoriblity has jumped from 52% to 58%. Romney (from 71% to 68%) Perry (44% to 41%)and Santorum (63% to 59%) all saw a 3% drop in favoriblity.
Likely GOP Primary voters still believe that Romney is the strongest candidate against Obama (43%) but here too the former speaker took a big leap from 17% to 29%. Again the support came mostly from Rick Santorum (from 15-9%).
Much of the GOP electorate are not set on their choice, 51% say they could still change their minds, and another 7% haven’t made an initial choice .
Interestingly Gingich saw one of his biggest jumps with GOP voters with a Household Income of $100K+ moving from 10-28% support possibly indicating that many of those “vulture capitalists” weren’t as upset with the Gingrich attacks on capitalism as some of the rest of us, Romney’s support amongst the upper incomes stayed consistent while Santourum’s took a dive.
Santorum hasn’t made any huge gaffes over the past few weeks, and had a pretty good showing at the debate on Monday night. The fact that his support fell off a cliff may mean that once the euphoria of Iowa wore off, people took another, harder look at the former senator from Penn. and and jumped off the bandwagon, or the Gingrich performance in the SC debate convinced Santorum supporters that the former Speaker was a more formidable candidate.
The clearest message to take away from this poll is that GOP voters still haven’t made up their minds, and none of the candidates can be presumed to have the nomination locked up. In fact the lead could change many more times before the GOP convention.