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Romney Wins Decisively in Florida     Permalink

As predicted by the polls, Mitt Romney won a double-digit victory in the Florida primary yesterday, beating Newt Gingrich by 14%. Because Florida decided to make its primary winner-take-all, Romney gets all 50 delegates. Originally the state was supposed to get 99 delegates, but lost 49 of them for jumping the gun and holding its primary in January. It also violated the RNC rule saying that early primaries must allocate delegates proportionally, but it did not incur an additional penalty for breaking a second rule. However, if Romney fails to get a clear majority of the delegates, there could be a challenge to the Florida delegation at the convention. Here are the results of the primary:

Candidate Votes Pct
Mitt Romney 771,842 46%
Newt Gingrich 531,294 32%
Rick Santorum 222,248 13%
Ron Paul 116,776 7%

While Romney clearly scored a solid victory, Gingrich said he will continue fighting until the convention. Such idle boasts generally don't mean much, but he will probably continue at least until Super Tuesday (March 6) when some Southern states vote. A county-by-county map of yesterday's results shows why.


As can be seen on the map, Gingrich did well in the northern part of the state, which is more like Georgia than it is like the Miami area. On Super Tuesday, Gingrich could actually win a number of Southern states and get new momentum. His argument will no doubt be some variant of "the South is the heart of the Republican party and Romney can't win there." Of course, that argument is specious since in the general election, any Republican will carry the South, but logic has not played much of a role in the Republican primary so far and is unlikely to make a surge now.

Also noteworthy is that half of Romney's margin came from only five counties: Miami-Dade (38,000), Broward (13,000), Pinellas (26,000), Palm Beach (21,000), and Hillsborough (17,000). Together they gave him a margin of about 115,000 votes. Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach are the three southernmost mainland counties on the Atlantic coast. Hillsborough and Pinellas are part of the Tampa metropolitan area. Romney also did well in Orange and Lake Counties, around Orlando, and in Leon County (Tallahassee). He did win two panhandle counties, Okaloosa and Bay, but only by 205 and 56 votes, respectively. So Basically, Romney won the big cities and Gingrich swept the rural areas.

The implications for the general election are that Romney might give Obama a fight for the big cities, where Democrats are normally much stronger, but that advantage might be offset in rural areas where people who don't like Romney might stay home or vote for the Libertarian candidate. Gingrich, in contrast, would have no chance in the big cities but could energize the base in rural areas.

Two key lessons from the Florida primary are: (1) negative ads work and (2) money matters. Right after the South Carolina primary, Gingrich took a big lead in Florida, but then the Romney money machine went to work carpet bombing the state with negative ads about Gingrich and he sunk like a stone. These facts are lost on no one and the general election is going to be the most brutal and negative one in history, funded largely by unaccountable money spent by outside groups.

Despite having no chance at the nomination and a critically ill daughter who needs his help, Rick Santorum hasn't indicated that he will give up now and will continue campaigning for family values. If he really does continue, he could deny Gingrich crucial support and ensure that the candidate he least approves of (Romney), wins. Never underestimate the ego of a politician.

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-- The Votemaster

Previous headlines

Jan31 Romney Set to Win Big in Florida
Jan31 Santorum Faces Easy Choice Tomorrow
Jan31 Prediction: Florida Will Win Today
Jan27 Romney Takes Off the Gloves in Final Florida Debate
Jan27 Romney Failed to List Foreign Investments on Legal Form
Jan25 Obama Lays Groundwork for a Populist Campaign in State-of-the-Union Speech
Jan24 Romney Releases 2010 Tax Return
Jan24 Role Reversal in the Debate: Romney Attacks, Gingrich Plays Defense
Jan24 Fred Thompson Endorses Newt Gingrich
Jan22 Gingrich Crushes Romney in South Carolina
Jan20 Perry Drops Out and Endorses Gingrich
Jan20 Gingrich Surging in South Carolina
Jan20 Gingrich's Second Wife Attacks Him
Jan20 Romney Loses His Win in Iowa
Jan20 Romney Reported to Have Millions of Dollars in the Cayman Islands
Jan20 The Final Four Take Off the Gloves in the Last Debate before the South Carolina Primary
Jan17 Hard-Hitting Debate in South Carolina Changes Nothing
Jan16 Huntsman Expected to Drop Out Today and Endorse Romney
Jan16 Why is the Republican Field So Weak?
Jan16 South Carolina Debate Tonight
Jan15 Social Conservatives Agree to Back Santorum
Jan13 Eleventh Commandment Repealed
Jan11 NH: Romney 39%, Paul 23%, Huntsman 17%, Gingrich 9%, Santorum 9%
Jan11 Charlie Cook: Redistricting is Politically Neutral
Jan10 Romney Leads Going into the New Hampshire Primary Today
Jan10 Gingrich Goes Negative in South Carolina
Jan08 Romney Survives Debate Unscathed
Jan08 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
Jan05 Bachmann Drops Out
Jan05 Perry Hesitates, but Stays In
Jan05 Movement Conservatives Attempt to Find a Consensus Candidate
Jan04 Iowa: Romney 24.6%, Santorum 24.6%, Paul 21.4%, Gingrich 13.3%
Jan03 All Eyes on Iowa Today
Jan03 The Horse Race as a Horse Race
Jan01 Happy New Presidential Election Year
Jan01 Iowa Caucuses Are This Tuesday
Jan01 Final Selzer Poll: Romney and Paul on top but Santorum Rising
Dec16 No Fireworks in Final GOP Debate
Dec11 Romney Offers Perry a $10,000 Bet During Debate
Dec11 Where is Sarah Palin?

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