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Florida Heat: GOP Race Gets Tighter

Thursday, January 26, 2012

(Fox News) A two-man fight for Florida is emerging ahead of the state's final Republican presidential debate Thursday, with polls showing the race neck and neck as Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich pound each other over personal and professional vulnerabilities. 

A new Time magazine/CNN poll had the race in a virtual tie between Romney and Gingrich, 36-34 percent among 369 registered Republicans who are likely to vote in the Florida presidential primary. The survey was taken between Jan. 22-24. Rick Santorum had 11 percent and Ron Paul was taking 9 percent of the vote.

The latter two candidates are far back in Florida, in part because they have been concentrating on other states.

According to the latest American Research Group poll of 600 likely GOP primary voters, Romney leads his rivals with 41 percent followed by Gingrich with 34 percent, Santorum with 9 percent and Paul with 7 percent. 

With the race tight, Romney's campaign may be benefiting from a decision to concentrate on early voting. The ARG poll found 17 percent of likely primary voters said they had already voted absentee or early. Among this group, Romney was leading Gingrich 51-39 percent. For those who haven't voted yet, the race was 39-33 percent Romney to Gingrich.