TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — With the first handful of precincts counted, Mitt Romney has jumped to an early lead in Florida’s Republican presidential primary, the biggest test so far in an increasingly negative race against Newt Gingrich.

Early returns show Romney with 52 percent to 28 percent for Gingrich.

About half of Florida primary voters say the most important factor for them is backing a candidate who can defeat President Barack Obama in November. That’s according to early exit poll results conducted for The Associated Press and television networks.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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