James A. Barnes, Special to CNN
(CNN) — As the Republican presidential campaign heads toward a critical showdown in the Florida primary, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appears to have rebounded from his second-place finish in South Carolina and is poised to score a victory over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, according to a CNN survey of Sunshine State GOP political insiders.
When 47 Florida GOP political players were asked who they thought would win Tuesday’s primary, four said that Gingrich would, while the other 43 predicted that Romney would prevail. These insiders included state legislators, campaign consultants, fundraisers, veterans of previous primary campaigns, tea party advocates and other party activists.
At the same time, the Florida insiders estimated that Romney’s final tally — while significant — would be a bit less than some of polls before the primary indicated. Collectively, these insiders predicted that Romney would capture 40% of the vote, compared with just under a third for Gingrich. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas were expected to battle it out for third place.
What percentage of the primary vote do you expect for:
Mitt Romney — 40%
Newt Gingrich — 32%
Rick Santorum — 14%
Ron Paul — 11%
Other — 2%
The CNN Florida insiders were surveyed from Thursday afternoon through Saturday. The survey was conducted over the Internet. The Florida insiders were given anonymity for their individual answers to encourage candid responses. Just under half of the insiders said they were formally aligned with one of the presidential campaigns, and half said they had neither endorsed nor were they working for any candidate. Overall, one third of the insiders backed Romney, while just under one-six supported Gingrich. If only the responses from insiders currently unaligned with any of the candidates were tabulated, the results predicting the primary vote would be Romney 39%, Gingrich 32%, Santorum, 15%, Paul 10% and other 2%.
Here are the names of the participants in the survey: …. Christina Johnson …. Kathy Mears…