Newt Gingrich holds a substantial 35% to 21% lead over Mitt Romney among Republican and Republican-leaning independent voters who say they are very likely to vote in the GOP primaries or caucuses. But clear majorities say there is at least a chance they would vote for either Gingrich or Romney in Republican primaries in their state. None of the other Republican candidates draws nearly as much potential support. Fully 70% of Republican likely voters support Gingrich or say there is a chance they would vote for him. Romney trails Gingrich for the nomination, but 61% of likely Republican primary voters either support Romney or say there is a chance they could support him
Just 18% of likely Republican primary voters say there is no chance they could support Gingrich and only somewhat more (26%) say there is no chance they could vote for Romney. By contrast, more than four-in-ten likely Republican primary voters have effectively ruled out voting for the other GOP candidates.
The survey of 392 likely Republican primary voters, conducted Dec. 7-11, finds that neither Gingrich nor Romney is drawing much in the way of strong support. Just 29% of Republican and Republican-leaning voters who favor Gingrich for the nomination support him strongly. Similarly, only 33% of Romney backers support him strongly. Support for both Gingrich and Romney is softer than the support for the leading GOP candidates at this stage in the campaign four years ago.
Gingrich holds a sizable lead over Romney among Tea Party Republicans (35% to 20%). However, even most Tea Party Republicans (60%) have not ruled out the possibility of supporting Romney, nor have most white evangelical Protestants.