The latest Florida polls show Mitt Romney with double-digit leads over GOP rival Newt Gingrich one day before the primary.
And a recent Gallup poll shows why: Voters nationally view Romney as a more believable president and a more sincere leader than the former speaker.
Romney Leading in Florida
The former governor of Massachusetts has an 11-point lead over Gingrich in a statewide poll conducted for The Tampa Bay Times, The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and television stations Bay News and Central Florida News 13.
Forty-two percent of Republican primary voters supported Romney, with 31 percent supporting Gingrich. On Sunday morning, an NBC News/Marist poll gave Romney a 15-point lead over Gingrich, 42 percent to 27 percent.
Romney's lead comes after strong debate performances last week in preparation for the Florida 2012 Republican primary, a major turnaround from earlier in January, when Gingrich pulled a surprising lead in several state polls.
But the reason for Newt Gingrich's fall from grace, and Mitt Romney's continued ascendance, is about more than just one debate performance or the money each candidate has to spend (though Romney has outspent his rival by an average of 4-1).
Voters will keep turning to Romney over Gingrich, according to a nationwide USA Today/Gallup poll, because they consider him to be two things that Gingrich is not: a leader, and sincere.
Romney More 'Authentic,' Presidential
In a national poll to measure voter perceptions of the leading GOP candidates, Gallup pollsters found that registered voters found Romney significantly more sincere and authentic than Gingrich, by a difference of 14 percentage points.
Under the category Has the personality and leadership qualities a president should have, Romney scored even higher: 59 percent of those polled saw him as possessing strong leadership qualities, 20 percentage points higher than Gingrich.
Romney also beat Gingrich in his perceived ability to manage the economy effectively and as someone who understood what problems Americans face in their daily lives.
Swing State Poll: Romney Still Leads
The national poll was conducted as part of Jan. 27-28 Gallup Daily tracking. But a parallel poll, conducted Jan. 24-28, zeroed in on 12 states considered crucial in the general election: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.
This poll found essentially the same results as the national survey. Romney was considered sincere and authentic by 50 percent of voters as compared to 38 percent for Gingrich, and significantly more U.S. registered voters identified the qualities they would like to see in a president in Romney than in Gingrich.
As a better choice for managing government, Romney maintained a smaller lead, and both candidates were tied when voters were asked if they understood the average American's problems.
Republican Support For Gingrich and Romney
For those supporting Gingrich for the Republican presidential nomination, however, there's good news as well as bad. In ranking general candidate characteristics, both Gingrich and Romney were received favorably by registered Republican voters and those leaning Republican.
In terms of being sincere and authentic, for example, Romney clocks in at 66 percent with Republican and leaning voters and about 37 percent with those leaning or registered as Democrats.
Gingrich, meanwhile, is perceived as sincere by 55 percent of those likely to vote Republican, with 21 percent of Democrats feeling the same way.
This seems to indicate that Newt Gingrich's role as a more polarizing figure in American politics may be skewing the USA Today/Gallup poll. Though Romney's crossover appeal bodes well for him in a general election, these numbers indicate that Gingrich still has a fighting chance for the nomination.
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