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USA Today/Gallup Poll of Swing States Shows Virtual Tie between Romney and Obama, Other GOP Candidates Trail by 7+ Points

"Newt Gingrich now trails the president by a decisive 14 percentage points."

Following Newt Gingrich's dominent win in the South Carolina GOP primary on January 21, an intriguing statistic was found in exit polls that revealed that the former Speaker beat rival Mitt Romney on the two arguments central to his campaign--that he knows best how to handle the economy and stands the best chance of beating President Barack Obama. In South Carolina, 45% of Republican voters said that beating President Obama was their highest priority, according to exit poll data released by CNN. Half of them voted for Gingrich, while fewer than four in 10 voted for Romney.

As the campaign has shifted to Florida and momentum has seemed to sway back in Romney's favor, a new USA Today/Gallup poll released Sunday may allow his campaign to breathe a short sigh of relief, for they still outpace rivals--and potentially the President--on "the electability debate." USA Today reports on Mitt Romney's lead over opponents in what will be the key swing states in the 2012 general election:

"Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney essentially ties Barack Obama in the nation's top dozen battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Swing States survey finds, while rival Newt Gingrich now trails the president by a decisive 14 percentage points.

That reflects a significant decline by the former House speaker since early December, when he led Obama by three points"

USA Today notes that Romney leads Obama by a statistically insignificant percentage point, 48%-47%. The poll has a margin of error +/- 5 percentage points.

After Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum trail the President in swing states by only seven points, Paul 43%-50% and Santorum 44%-51%. As of now, former Speaker Newt Gingrich trails President Obama 40%-54%.

The poll was conducted by registered voters in Colorado, Florida,  Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Hampshire, Mew Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

A NBC News/Marist poll released earlier Sunday revealed that Romney currently holds a 15-point lead over Gingrich in Florida before the state's primary Tuesday. The NBC News/Marist poll did not take into account Gingrich's potential boost from Herman Cain's endorsement Saturday night.

Gingrich on Sunday acknowledged his slide in the polls, and blamed Mitt Romney for “carpet-bombing“ him with ”Wall Street money” attack ads, Politico reported.

“If you’ll notice, when you get outside the zone where Romney carpet-bombs with Wall Street money, and you look at what’s happening in the rest of the country, I’m ahead in all three national polls that were released this week,” Gingrich said on ABC’s “This Week.“ ”It’s only when he can mass money to focus on carpet-bombing with negative ads that he gains any traction at all.”

Data collected from Real Clear Politics shows that Gingrich does still lead in national polls, but his spread has decreased since early last week.

One last thing…
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