Romney leads Newt Gingrich by 20 points, 47 percent to 27 percent, followed by Rick Santorum at 12 percent and Ron Paul at 9 percent.

A smattering of new polling data released on Monday shows Romney’s lead in Florida between 5 percent and 14 percent, so the Suffolk poll could be an outlier.


However, Romney’s lead over Gingrich is even greater among those who have already voted — 55 percent to 24 percent — and it’s estimated that more than half a million, or 25 percent, of likely voters have already cast their ballots.

“It is almost certain that Mitt Romney will top his 39 percent showing in New Hampshire,” said Suffolk University Director of Political Research David Paleologos. “This poll also tells us that Romney could reverse and exceed Newt Gingrich’s percentage and margin in South Carolina — and do it in Gingrich’s backyard.”

Gingrich began last week ahead in a number of polls after a convincing victory in South Carolina. However, Romney regained momentum after a series of strong debate performances, which had previously been key to buoying Gingrich in the polls, and through a media barrage attacking the former House Speaker’s record.

Gingrich accused Romney of “carpet-bombing” him with negative ads in Florida, but according to the Suffolk poll, voters see Gingrich as the more negative campaigner.

Thirty-seven percent said Gingrich ran the more negative campaign, compared to 31 percent who said Romney.