Poll: McCain Leading Romney in Florida’s GOP Primary

1/28/2008

With the Florida Republican Primary just one day away, John McCain (30 percent) is the slight Florida front-runner. Mitt Romney (27 percent) trails but is within the poll’s statistical margin of error, according to a new survey of likely Republican voters by the Political Research Center at Boston’s Suffolk University. 

Rudy Giuliani (13 percent), the front-runner for most of 2007, is now in third place ahead of Mike Huckabee (11 percent).  Lagging behind were Ron Paul (4 percent) and Alan Keyes (1 percent), while 16 percent of likely voters were undecided or refused to respond.  In addition to the high undecided number, more than a third said they were somewhat likely or very likely to change their mind before voting Tuesday.

Endorsements may be key

“The race is very fluid, and John McCain just keeps on going.  He is fighting businessman Mitt Romney’s attempt to secure Florida as another electoral acquisition,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.  “The difference between winning and losing tomorrow may rest with McCain’s recent endorsements from two key statewide Republicans over the weekend:  Senator Mel Martinez and Governor Charlie Crist.”

McCain appears to have a higher percentage of committed voters.  Seventy-two percent of McCain voters said they were unlikely to change their mind before Tuesday compared with 68 percent for Romney, 66 percent for Huckabee, and 64 percent for Giuliani.

Geographically, McCain and Romney ran virtually dead even in except in the southern part of the state, home to a large Hispanic population, where McCain (37 percent) led Romney (25 percent). Women were key to McCain’s margin there.

Native Floridians gave McCain his biggest lead, compared to those transplanted from other states.  Among likely Republican voters born in Florida, McCain led Romney 33 percent-to-15 percent.

Projecting national winner

When likely voters were asked who would be the next president of the United States, regardless of whom they personally supported and including candidates of both parties, McCain topped the list with 24 percent, followed by Romney (19 percent) and Hillary Clinton (13 percent).

The Suffolk University poll also found that the economy is central to Sunshine State Republicans.  From among four listed issues, 44 percent chose the economy as the most important issue facing the country, followed by terrorism (20 percent), illegal immigration (18 percent), and the war in Iraq (13 percent).  

Methodology

The Suffolk University poll was conducted from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27, 2008.  The margin of error on the statewide survey of 400 is +/- 4.90 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.  Suffolk is scheduled to release separate bellwether analysis information on Tuesday, Jan. 29.  All respondents from the statewide survey and bellwether tracking were likely Republican voters in the Florida presidential primary on Tuesday, Jan. 29.  Marginals and 110 pages of cross-tabulation data are available on the Suffolk University Political Research Center Web site.  For more information, please contact David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, at 781-290-9310.

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