Gingrich overtakes Romney nationally

Newt Gingrich leads Mitt Romney nationally for the first time in a month, according to the latest Gallup daily tracking poll.

Gingrich took 31 percent, followed by Romney at 27 percent and Ron Paul and Rick Santorum at 12 percent each.

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After a surprising and brief surge in December, Gingrich took the lead for the first time, capping out at 37 percent before a swift descent led to Romney regaining the lead in late December.

That began a sharp rise for Romney in which he also capped out at 37 percent only one week ago.

Support for the front-runners has now crossed again, with Romney falling and Gingrich rising fast on the strength of his strong debate performances and convincing victory in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

Still, the poll doesn’t take into account Monday night’s debate in Florida, where Romney went after Gingrich hard, calling him an “influence peddler” for his time as a consultant at Freddie Mac.

Gingrich’s fiery debate style, which has energized the crowds at previous debates and even garnered him a standing ovation, seemed to fall flat at the debate in which the moderators asked the crowd to hold their applause for the commercial breaks.

The debates, most notably those leading up to the South Carolina primary, have played a big role in providing Gingrich with momentum throughout the primary season.

The candidates will debate one more time before the Jan. 31 Florida primary.

New polling data also shows that Gingrich has overtaken Romney in the Sunshine State, where Romney held a double-digit lead over Gingrich only one week ago.

Still, more than 230,000 ballots have already been cast in Florida, which allows for early voting. According to a Public Policy Poll released on Tuesday, Romney leads Gingrich 43 percent to 40 percent among those who have already voted.