Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are statistically tied in Florida, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.
Romney leads Gingrich 36 percent to 34, within the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.
Romney led Gingrich in the same poll taken earlier this month, 36 percent to 24.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) round out the field at 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
The poll was conducted Jan. 19-23, so about half of the 601 Republicans were surveyed before Saturday’s South Carolina primary results were in. Gingrich won that primary convincingly after a late surge fueled by his fiery performances in a series of debates.
The poll’s results, however, do not take into account Monday evening’s debate in Florida, where Romney went after Gingrich hard, calling him an “influence-peddler” for his ties to mortgage giant Freddie Mac. Gingrich’s rise has largely been attributed to his strong debate performances, and with the audience instructed to hold their applause, his attacks seemed to fall flat.
In addition, nearly a quarter of a million ballots have already been cast in the Sunshine State — many of them while Romney was ahead in the polls by double digits.
The rest of the data seems to even out between the two front-runners, making it unclear who holds the advantage.
According to the Quinnipiac poll, Gingrich has the edge with two major constituencies in Florida — he leads Romney among white evangelical Christians, 43 percent to 30, and among Tea Party supporters, 43 percent to 28.
But Romney has the better favorability rating, with 71 percent saying they view him favorably and 19 percent unfavorably, compared to Gingrich who is at 61 percent and 26 percent, respectively.
Romney is widely viewed as the candidate best suited to turn the economy around, according to the poll; however, Gingrich is seen as the stronger leader by a similar margin.
Florida is an expensive media market and requires big dollars and a strong campaign infrastructure that would seem to favor Romney. However, a super-PAC that supports Gingrich received $5 million earlier this week from Dr. Miriam Adelson, the wife of billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, which could go a long way to keeping the former House Speaker competitive in the Sunshine State.