Newt Gingrich has a double-digit over the GOP field nationally, but Mitt Romney performs better in a head-to-head match-up against President Obama, according to a NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday.
Gingrich is the first candidate in the poll to take 40 percent of likely Republican primary voters, followed by Romney at 23 percent, Ron Paul at 9 percent, Michele BachmannMichele BachmannLobbying world Trump camp reassures pastors after abortion ruling Falwell faces flak for posing with Trump in front of Playboy MORE at 8 percent, Rick Perry at 6 percent, Jon Huntsman at 5 percent, and Rick Santorum at 3 percent.
Romney has so far been unable to convince the Republican electorate of his conservative bona fides, according to the poll, as 57 percent said they view Gingrich as a conservative, versus only 29 percent who said the same about Romney.
However, the electability argument holds up for Romney in these latest numbers.
In a head-to-head match-up, President Obama edges Romney 47 percent to 45 percent, but the president leads Gingrich handily, 51 percent to 40 percent.
The disparity in how the two GOP frontrunners perform against Obama results from how the two are viewed inside and outside of conservative voting blocs.
Gingrich has better favorability numbers than Romney with Republicans, conservatives and the Tea Party, while Romney has better favorability numbers among women, independents and suburban dwellers.
In addition, 50 percent of voters said they would never vote for Gingrich, while only 44 percent said the same about Romney. 45 percent said the same about Obama.