The State Of The GOP Horserace Post-Florida
Last night, Mitt Romney won a convincing, yet still underwhelming victory in Florida. Even though he had the best organization, outspent Newt 5-to-1, had the media relentlessly shilling for him, and the anti-Mitt vote was split amongst 3 candidates, he still couldn’t crack 50% of the vote. So, yes, Mitt did win a significant victory by a 10+ point margin, but it still underscores his weakness as a candidate. Here’s a guy whose entire candidacy is based on his electability and even with almost every advantage imaginable, he couldn’t break the 50% mark. So, what happens when he goes up against Barack Obama, who will have the media on his side and will outspend him in a 2 man race? Maybe he can pull it off, but there’s nothing in Mitt’s Florida victory that shows he’s up to that challenge.
Regrettably, the chances that we’ll be forced to have the least conservative nominee since Nixon have increased significantly because of Mitt’s victory in Florida. Both Newt and Santorum have decreased momentum, are low on cash, there are no debates currently scheduled for this month, and the primary schedule favors Mitt. Nevada, which has a large Mormon population, along with liberal, northeastern Maine are up next. Michigan, where Romney’s father was the governor, is also coming up this month before Super Tuesday. An even bigger problem for Gingrich and Santorum is that they’re splitting the conservative vote, neither of them seems inclined to get out, and the longer they both stay in, the more momentum they will allow Romney to build.
For example, let’s say theoretically that Santorum had decided to get out after South Carolina. If that would have happened, it’s likely that Gingrich would have won Florida because he would have picked up the vast majority of Santorum’s voters and because his numbers would have looked a lot better, he would probably have drawn more endorsements, much more monetary support, and legions of bandwagon supporters who would have flocked to him because they thought he could win. It’s possible, but significantly less likely, that Santorum could have pulled off the same trick if Newt had, for reasons unknown, dropped out after winning South Carolina.
If either Santorum or Gingrich were to go ahead and get out of the race, things could change in a hurry, but if that doesn’t happen, Romney is in a very strong position.