Gingrich, Romney tied for lead

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is tied at the top of the Republican field with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, according to a USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, Romney gets 20 percent of the vote and Gingrich gets 19 percent. Former pizza mogul Herman Cain is right behind with 16 percent, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul is at 10 percent. Looking only at registered voters, Gingrich gets 22 percent, Romney gets 21 percent, Cain gets 16 percent and Paul gets 9 percent.

Among conservative voters — who make up the majority of Republican primary voters — Gingrich does better than Romney, getting 23 percent of the vote to Romney’s 20 percent. Romney has drawn criticism from conservatives of all stripes for, among other things, flip-flopping on various issues. Eighteen percent of conservative voters said they would vote for Herman Cain.

Among moderate-to-liberal Republicans, Romney is the clear preference, getting 20 percent of the vote, while Cain and Gingrich each drop to 12 percent. However, moderates and liberals do not make up a substantial numbers of the Republican primary base.

Younger Republican voters and older Republican voters are not quite on the same page as far as who they support in the primary. Gingrich leads among those between ages 50 and 64, and among those over 65, followed by Romney, who is 5 to 6 points behind.

But among voters aged 18 to 29, Gingrich gets only 4 percent, while Cain and Paul tie for first with 19 percent each. Romney is at 15 percent and Rick Perry breaks double-digits in this crowd, coming in at 11 percent. Gallup hypothesizes that, “This pattern may reflect the fact that [Gingrich] has been out of public office for more than a decade, and thus a less familiar figure to younger Republicans.”

Gingrich has risen steadily in the polls since bottoming out at 4 percent in August, when most of his campaign staff quit en masse. His surge has come with the customary scrutiny, including revelations that he received large sums of money from Freddie Mac, and that he was reportedly working as a consultant for pharmaceutical companies during the 2003 battle over Medicare Part D. For the moment, however, his numbers remain strong.

The USA Today/Gallup poll is based on a survey of 1,062 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide. The margin of error is plus or minus four points. The sample of registered voters includes 946 people and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

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