Polls now show Romney tied with anti-Romney candidate Newt Gingrich -- and that Gingrich's fans are starting to think Romney's not so bad after all. The conventional wisdom has been that Mitt Romney is a great candidate on paper but he just can't win the hearts of conservative voters. The large volume of the love and marriage metaphors about Romney (voters want to date around before settling down -- says something disturbing about the private lives of the political press corp. Nevertheless, the day of settling seems near. Here's our guide to today's polls and why they matter.
Findings: Mitt Romney's net favorability rating has risen 15 points in a month. He was viewed favorably by 9 points (48 percent to 39 percent) but that's gone up quite a bit, to 24 points (55 percent to 31 percent).
Pollster: Public Policy Polling
Methodology: Automated telephone interviews of 658 likely Republican primary voters from December 16 to December 18.
Why it matters: It could finally be happening: Republican voters are starting to like Mitt Romney. For months -- even Tuesday morning on MSNBC -- he's had to awkwardly answer questions about why he couldn't close the deal and grow his support above about 20 percent. But he's growing on voters. They see him more favorably, and more important, the 'anyone but Romney' sentiment might be fading if he's the second choice of those backing Gingrich, the current top Not Romney candidate.
Caveat: This Democratic pollster has been criticized for asking questions to make Republicans look dumb. Today it finds the most popular third party candidate right now is Donald Trump.
Findings: Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are tied nationally -- each with 20 percent (CBS News), 30 percent (ABC News/ Washington Post), or 28 percent (CNN/ORC International)
Methodology: For CBS, 992 registered voters -- 291 of them Republican primary voters -- phoned between December 14 and December 18. For ABC, 1005 adults -- 395 leaning Republican -- phoned by both landline and cell from December 15 through December 18. For CNN, 1,015 adult Americans -- 436 Republican and Republican-leaning plus 497 Democrats and Democrat-leaning -- phoned December 16 to December 18.
Why it matters: More evidence that Gingrich is following the same trajectory as the other anti-Mitt Romney candidates.
Caveat: The Republican nominee isn't picked by a national vote.
Findings: Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich would lose to President Obama 48 percent to 50 percent in a general election.
Methodology: 1,019 registered voters interviewed by phone -- at least 400 by cell -- between December 15 and December 18.
Why it matters: Ironically, just as Gingrich is slipping among Republicans, he's doing better among general election voters.
Caveat: In head-to-head match-ups, more people say they'd vote against Gingrich than against Romney. But that number isn't much bigger -- for Gingrich it's 15 percent, for Romney it's 11 percent. And Rasmussen, a Republican pollster, finds that Gingrich lost ground against Obama for the third straight week.