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Poll: Romney Has Large Lead Among Florida Hispanic Voters

Mitt Romney hasn't had a lot of good news lately but he did get some positive information Wednesday — a new Univision/ABC News poll gives him a significant lead over Newt Gingrich among Florida Latinos less than a week before the Florida Republican primary.

The survey found that 35 percent of respondents said they would vote for Romney while 21 percent said Gingrich was their choice. Rep. Ron Paul was at six percent and Rick Santorum at seven percent.

Voters who describe themselves as Hispanic or Latino make up about 10 percent of the Republicans likely to vote in Florida's closed primary on Tuesday. If the contest turns out to be close, their support could prove pivotal in deciding the outcome.

That Romney is doing better with Florida Latinos even though he has a more hard line position on undocumented workers than Gingrich underscores how the issue of immigration is more nuanced in the Sunshine State than elsewhere.

The state's large Cuban-American and Puerto Rican populations, for instance, are less concerned about immigration because of their special status under U.S. law. Cubans gain residency after a year; Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.

An economic message about jobs and housing has more resonance to Latinos in Florida than immigration so Romney has muted his tough talk on illegal immigration that he used in Iowa and South Carolina.

While Romney has higher support than Gingrich among Hispanics, he trails President Obama for the same Florida voters. Obama led Romney by ten percentage points, 50 percent to 40 percent. His lead over Gingrich was somewhat similar, 52 percent to 38 percent.

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Frank James joined NPR News in April 2009 to launch the blog, "The Two-Way," with co-blogger Mark Memmott.