Mitt Romney's generally seen as the front runner to win the pivotal Republican primary for President in Florida but our latest poll in the state finds the contest there completely up in the air.
There's a three way tie at the top with 18% of primary voters listing each of Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich as their first choice for President. Sarah Palin gets 15%, followed by Michele Bachmann at 7%, Ron Paul and Tim Pawlenty at 6%, and Haley Barbour at 3%.
In 2008 Romney received 31% of the vote in the Florida primary so his support has fallen quite a bit since then, consistent with what we're finding for him across the country. Huckabee, on the other hand, is seeing a rise in his standing from the 13% he got in the state last time.
The reason Romney isn't really proving to be the favorite in Florida is a lack of support from voters describing themselves as 'very conservative,' who at 40% constitute the largest share of the primary electorate in the state. Romney's favorability with them is only 59%, placing him well behind Huckabee's 81%, Gingrich's 73%, Palin's 71%, and even Ron Paul's 60%. Only 12% of those voters say he's their choice for the nomination, putting him firmly in fourth place.
We also tested some alternative iterations of the Republican field but in only one do voters give a lot of clarity about who they'd pick as their nominee. Testing a scenario in which Huckabee chose not to run, Gingrich leads Romney 24-23 with Palin at 19%. Testing a scenario in which Palin chose not to run, Huckabee leads with 24% to 22% for both Romney and Gingrich. In a scenario where both Huckabee and Palin sat the race out, Gingrich leads with 30% to 28% for Romney, 11% for Bachmann, and 10% for Pawlenty. Throwing Rudy Giuliani in the mix as a potential candidate you get basically a four way tie at the top with Huckabee, Gingrich, and Romney at 17%, Giuliani at 16%, and Palin at 11%.
The one version of the Republican primary where we did find someone with a clear lead was when Jeb Bush was included as a possible candidate. 30% of voters said they would pick him with Gingrich, Huckabee, and Romney all at 14% and no one else hitting double digits.
There is no early front runner in Florida- these numbers show that the state is completely up for grabs.
Full results here