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Mitt Romney: From South Carolina loss to big Florida surge

Energized by two recent debates and powered by a campaign war chest that’s allowed him to blanket the state with ads attacking Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney has surged in late polling.

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, campaigns at Sugden Plaza in Naples, Fla., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012.

Charles Dharapak/AP

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In the final days and hours before the Republican primary in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich surged ahead in the polls, leaving Mitt Romney scrambling to make the best of an increasingly losing situation. Romney got shellacked in that race, losing to Gingrich by nearly 13 points.

Going into Florida, the next big contest and one that’s worth more convention delegates than all three of the previous races combined, the reverse has happened.

Energized by his more aggressive performance in two Florida debates, and powered by a campaign war chest that’s allowed him to blanket the state’s media markets with attack ads, Romney has surged in late polling.

A survey by the Tampa Bay Times, the Miami Herald, and two Florida TV stations has Romney ahead, 42 percent to 31 percent. Public Policy Polling finds “strong movement away from Newt Gingrich and toward Mitt Romney.” PPP’s latest poll (out Saturday) gives Romney an eight-point edge (40-32). An NBC/Marist poll released Sunday gives Romney a 15-point lead (42-27).

“It's clear that the negative attacks on Gingrich have been the major difference maker over the last week,” reports PPP. “His net favorability has declined 13 points in just five days. Romney has pretty much stayed in place.”


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