Mitt Romney has a double-digit lead in Florida, ahead of his closest rival by 17 points, according to an American Research Group poll released on Monday.

Romney took 42 percent, followed by Newt Gingrich at 25 percent, Rick Santorum at 9 percent, Ron Paul at 8 percent, and Jon Huntsman at 5 percent.

Huntsman ended his campaign on Monday and endorsed Romney.


Romney was polling at only 19 percent in the same poll at the end of November, while Gingrich reached 50 percent in the Sunshine State at the peak of his campaign surge.

Since then, Romney won both the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. According to an Insider Advantage poll released on Monday, he also leads the field by double digits in South Carolina, where voters head to the polls on Saturday.

The Gingrich campaign has called the South Carolina primary the “last chance” to stop a Romney nomination. Still, a strong showing by Gingrich in the Palmetto State could reignite the support of some of the older voters in Florida that buoyed the former House Speaker in the polls during his short-lived surge.

Florida is an expensive state to campaign in and will allot all of its delegates to the winner. Paul, who is not expected to contend there, will likely move on to Nevada, where the delegates are divided proportionately. Florida is losing half of its delegates at the nomination convention, however, as punishment by the national party for moving up the date of its primary.

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