Republican presidential candidates takes questions from CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer (extreme right) during the Florida Republican Presidential debate January 26, 2012 at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. (Getty)
Jacksonville, FL (CBS) -- Mitt Romney leads Newt Gingrich by nine points in a new poll of likely Republican primary voters in Florida, the latest sign that the former Massachusetts governor has reversed the momentum Gingrich gained following his South Carolina primary victory.
The Quinnipiac University poll, released this morning, shows Romney leading Gingrich 38 percent to 29 percent, with Ron Paul following at 14 percent and Rick Santorum at 12 percent. The poll reflects a clear surge for Romney: In a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, Romney led Gingrich by just two points.
Romney's increased support comes from men in the Sunshine State, who've gone from backing Gingrich 37 percent to 33 percent to backing Romney 36 percent to 29 percent. (Romney's ten point advantage among women has roughly held steady.)
In polls taken immediately after his primary win, Gingrich was leading Romney by as much as nine points. Now polls are consistently showing Romney with a lead in the high single digits.
Gingrich's best hope to close the apparent gap was probably last night's Republican presidential debate. But after shining in both debates last week in South Carolina, Gingrich has been on his heels in these debates, and Romney was widely seen as having put in the better performance last night.
Florida is a "winner-take-all" delegate state, which means the state's 50 delegates will go entirely to whoever comes out on top in the primary.