Poll: What Could Hold GOP Frontrunners Romney, Gingrich Back?

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Ethan Miller/Jessica McGowan/Getty ImagesANALYSIS

(NEW YORK) — Neither Mitt Romney’s nor Newt Gingrich’s private sector experience is playing particularly well with the American public, although Gingrich’s consulting work draws far more criticism than Romney’s background in buying and restructuring companies.

Americans, by a broad 54-24 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, hold an unfavorable opinion of Gingrich’s work as a consultant for companies with an interest in federal policymaking after he left elective office.  The division on Romney, while not positive, is much closer: Forty percent see his work experience negatively vs. 35 percent who view it positively.

Both candidates do far better in their own party, especially Romney.  Fifty-eight percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents express a favorable view of his business experience.  Many fewer leaned Republicans, 44 percent, rate Gingrich’s experience positively; indeed, nearly as many see Gingrich’s consulting work unfavorably, 40 percent, as favorably.

Nonetheless that’s a substantial improvement for Gingrich.  This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that positive reactions to his work experience among leaned Republicans have improved by 15 points since mid-January, while negative ratings have dropped by 11 points, from 51 percent.  So while he still trails Romney in work-experience ratings, the margin has narrowed.

Across the political spectrum, these views are far more dim.  Sixty-six percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have an unfavorable opinion of Gingrich’s consulting work.  And while Romney’s business experience is less unpopular, still more than half of leaned Democrats, 53 percent, see it negatively, vs. 22 percent who view it favorably.  A substantial 25 percent are undecided.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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