Newt Gingrich has a large lead in Minnesota...for the moment. Our weekend polling there found him with 36% to 18% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Rick Santorum, and 13% for Ron Paul.
Gingrich shouldn't get too comfortable though. The race in Minnesota is incredibly fluid. 15% of voters are undecided and out of the 85% who do have a current preference, 63% say they could change their minds between now and the caucus in two weeks. That leaves almost 70% of the electorate up for grabs in the closing stretch and it seems likely that the Florida results could have a significant result on the psyche of Minnesota voters. If Romney comes back to win in the Sunshine State it could result in significant improvement in his Minnesota numbers.
All that said, these numbers are clearly very good for Gingrich and very bad for Romney. Gingrich's favorability is a +34 spread (59/25) while Romney's is just +14 (50/36). Since PPP last polled the state in May Gingrich's favorability with GOP voters has increased by 40 points from its previous -6 (35/41) standing.
Gingrich's supporters are also more committed with 39% saying they'll definitely vote for him compared to only 27% who say the same for Romney. Among voters whose minds are totally made up Romney actually drops all the way down to 4th place at 15%, behind Gingrich's 44%, Santorum's 25%, and Paul's 16%.
If Santorum's out of the race by the time Minnesota's vote comes around it could work to Gingrich's further advantage. Santorum voters prefer Gingrich to Romney 44-20 if they had to pick between the two and overall Minnesota Republicans pick Gingrich 50-29 in a head to head with Romney.
Newt's winning with pretty much every key group in Minnesota. He's up 44-12 on Romney with Tea Partiers (Paul's at 18% and Santorum's at 14%) but he's up 33-22 with non-Tea Partiers as well. He's up 44-18 with men, but he's also up 28-19 with women. He leads Romney with Republicans (40-20) but he's also up with independents (26-15) who are likely to be a similar share of the electorate to what they were in Iowa. And Gingrich is winning every age group, although he's tied with Paul among young voters.
Things could change a lot in the next two weeks- that's the story of this year's Republican contest- but for now it looks like Romney could be headed for an embarrassing defeat in a state that he actually won in 2008.
Full results here