) -- Newt Gingrich's lead in a Florida primary poll gives him a serious chance to win the GOP nomination.


Florida Times-Union


poll surveyed 513 registered Florida voters and showed the former House speaker 24 percentage points ahead of Mitt Romney, who finished second in the survey. Gingrich, Romney and Herman Cain finished in the top three spots with 41%, 17% and 13% favor, respectively.

"I have not seen a lead this large, this late in a Republican presidential primary season since I have been polling," Matt Towery, pollster at InsiderAdvantage,

told the


. "Newt Gingrich is winning nearly 50% of the independent vote, but more importantly, the Republican vote which makes up the vast majority of the Florida Republican primary."

As it stands, Gingrich holds poll leads in Iowa, South Carolina and Florida, while Romney leads in New Hampshire. If Gingrich wins those three states, the Republican primary race won't be decided until June, a political consultant who asked to remain anonymous told



Herman Cain's

possible drop from the 2012 GOP nomination race could compel Cain supporters to defect to Gingrich as many of them are unlikely to prefer Romney. Conservative Republicans feel Romney is unclear on the issues of same-sex marriage, abortion and the financial bailout.

Towery told the


that InsiderAdvantage hasn't incorrectly identified the winner in Florida's statewide contests.

Gingrich led in almost every voter category, except for black voters (Cain), Democrats (Cain) and 18- to 29-year-olds (Rick Perry). The former House speaker led among Independents by 28.4 percentage points over Romney.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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