Q Poll: Giuliani Trails in Florida, Romney and McCain Tied for First Place

According to a new Quinnipiac poll out this morning, Rudy Giuliani is still a distant third in Florida, tied statistically with Mike Huckabee at 14-13.

John McCain and Mitt Romney are also in a statistical tie for first place, with McCain up one percentage point at 32 percent to Romney’s 31 percent.

Hillary Clinton maintains a decisive lead over Barack Obama, 50-30. The data was collected between January 24 and January 27, mostly before and one day after Obama’s victory in South Carolina.

Full release:

Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are running neck and neck among Florida likely Republican voters, with 32 percent for McCain and 31 percent for Romney, as former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani gets 14 percent and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee gets 13 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Among likely Democratic presidential primary voters, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton leads Illinois Sen. Barack Obama 50 – 30 percent, with 12 percent for former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

This compares to a four-way Republican primary horse race in a January 14 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University with McCain at 22 percent, Giuliani at 20 percent, and Romney and Huckabee at 19 percent each.

In that January 14 survey, Sen. Clinton topped Obama 52 – 31 percent.

“Sen. McCain and Gov. Romney are tight as a tick, although McCain’s supporters appear slightly more committed. With 24 hours to go, the race is up in the air. Whichever candidate finishes strongest will win Florida and all 57 of its reduced delegate count,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“The major unknown in the final hours before primary day, which could make the critical difference in determining the winner, is how much weight the endorsements by Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez of Sen. McCain carry with Florida Republicans.

“Even with Sen. Obama’s landslide win in South Carolina, he still trails Sen. Clinton by 20 points and a comeback of that magnitude in the final hours would be virtually unprecedented in recent political history,” said Brown. “Moreover, the demographics of the Florida Democratic electorate are not nearly as favorable to Obama as was the case in South Carolina, where more than half the voters were African-American.

“On the Democratic side, there are no delegates at stake at this point.”

The shakeup in the Republican race, in which McCain and Romney have pulled away from what was a four-way dead heat two weeks ago, stems from former Huckabee and Giuliani voters moving to one of the two front-runners. In the last two weeks, McCain and Romney have gained 10 and 12 points respectively, while Giuliani and Huckabee have lost six points each.

“Mayor Giuliani rolled the dice for his entire campaign on Florida, and barring a comeback of monumental proportions, it looks like he is coming up snake eyes,” said Brown.

A total of 82 percent of Clinton voters say they “are not too likely” or “not likely at all” to change their minds by tomorrow, compared to 69 percent of Obama supporters.

On the Republican side, 78 percent of McCain voters and 66 percent of Romney voters say they are not likely to change their minds.

Because Florida scheduled its January 29 primary outside the window allowed by the Republican and Democratic National Committee rules, the Democratic primary will award no delegates; while the GOP haul will be half its normal allotment.

From January 24 – 27, Quinnipiac University surveyed 481 Florida likely Democratic primary voters, with a margin of error of 4.5 percent and 585 likely Republican primary voters, with a margin of error of 4.1 percent.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. Q Poll: Giuliani Trails in Florida, Romney and McCain Tied for First Place