The Washington Times - January 27, 2012, 09:27AM

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has opened up a nine-point lead over former House speaker Newt Gingrich among likely voters in Florida’s Republican presidential primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday.

Mr. Romney now leads Mr. Gingrich 38 percent to 29 percent, just four days before the nation’s first big-state primary. The same poll on Tuesday showed Mr. Romney with only a two-point lead over Mr. Gingrich, winner of last week’s South Carolina primary.


In the latest survey, conducted from Tuesday through Thursday, Texas Rep. Ron Paul received support from 14 percent of those polled. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum came in last with 12 percent. Only 6 percent were undecided.

“Speaker Newt Gingrich’s momentum from his South Carolina victory appears to have stalled, and Gov. Mitt Romney seems to be pulling away in Florida,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Of course, with four days before Election Day, there is time for another reversal. Three in 10 voters say they might change their mind.”

On Thursday night, the GOP candidates held their last debate for nearly a month. Part of Mr. Gingrich’s momentum had been attributed to good debate performances.

“With the debates now over, Gingrich will need some other way to reverse the tide that appears to be going against him,” Mr. Brown said.