As the four Republican primary candidates ready themselves for Florida voters this Tuesday – only two, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, remain in the Sunshine State while Rick Santorum and Ron Paul set their sights on Nevada and Maine.
The most recent Rasmussen telephone survey, conducted Saturday, January 22nd, indicates that Romney who has been pulling ahead this past week now commands a double-digit lead over Gingrich, despite Newt’s initial edge after winning the South Carolina primary. According to the poll, Romney has 44% support – 16 percentage points ahead of Gingrich who has 28%. Santorum, with 12%, and Paul with 10%, have all but conceded a loss in Florida and they’ve left the frontrunners to try and outspend each other these last few days as they divert their resources elsewhere.
According to the most recent Compete data – online interest in these candidates reflects exactly the same trend and it looks like Romney will be picking up another 50 delegates this Tuesday.
As we look at the online interest for each of the candidates in Florida* we can see that the data tells the same story that we’ve been seeing in the news all week.
Newt had a respectable lead coming out of South Carolina last week, but that interest has eroded over the past several days and Mitt is back out front. This is mostly due to Romney’s advertising efforts and strong performances in the Tampa and Jacksonville debates, but Gingrich campaigning to be President of the Moon didn’t exactly hurt the Romney camp either…
As Mitt seems to have regained his footing after explaining away the issue of his taxes these past two weeks, it is important to consider that 67% of his interest among online Floridians is coming from those who earn less than 60 thousand dollars a year.
Most of the candidates are gaining the majority of their attention from this $30 – $60 thousand dollar income bracket, except Paul who is favored most by the slightly-more-well-off, earning between $60 and $100 thousand per year.
So it looks like Romney will carry the state of Florida, Gingrich will take second and Santorum and Paul will likely take 3rd and 4th, respectively (though, really only the 1st place finisher matters in a winner-take-all state like Florida. It looks like endorsement from Herman Cain won’t be able to help Gingrich in Florida. Looking beyond Florida, the Nevada and Maine caucuses commence on February 4th and Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri voters have their say on February 7th and I’ll be back to weigh in on these primaries at the end of the week.
*Throughout the 2012 Republican Primaries, I will be using Compete’s 2,000,000+ person panel to examine the weekly unique visitor (UV) traffic to each of the Republican primary candidate’s official campaign websites, campaign donation pages, official Facebook pages and Wikipedia pages. I will conduct analysis at the county, state and national level to derive insights about the performance of candidates and offer predictions based on these trends in our sample data. In some instances (ie. At the county level) sample sizes may be low, but the data points are still interesting for directional analysis.
Nathan Kollett is an Analyst in the Technology & Entertainment vertical at Compete. Nathan is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst and earned his B.A. in Economics with a minor in Mathematics and Statistics. You can follow him on Twitter at @nathankollett and connect with him on on Linkedin