Mitt Romney has regained his lead over Newt Gingrich in Florida, as he takes a double-digit victory over the former House Speaker in the most recent primary. His victory means he will take 50 out of the 1,144 representatives being contested in the primaries, in the lead-up to the Republican convention. The state of Florida is the most populous and most diverse state so far, which is why many consider the results of the Florida primary to be the most reliable indicator of the eventual Republican presidential nomination.
Masachussets governor Mitt Romney won Florida’s fifty delegates with 46% of the votes, far ahead of Newt Gingrich (32%), Rick Santorum (13%) and Ron Paul (7%). Senator Mark Rubio, the Republican Florida representative, in advance of the poll results, told CNN, ”the winner of Florida is in all likelihood going to be the nominee of our party.” Although the support of key Florida figures like Senator Rubio was highly sought after by the candidates, he did not advocate any of the candidates in the primary.
Republican nominee-hopefuls Santorum and Ron Paul are defying Rubio’s prediction, and left Florida relatively early to begin campaigning in Colorado and Nevada, among other states.
“No matter what happens in Florida, this race is wide open,” said Rick Santorum in Colorado, promising a long fight for the Republican nomination. Gingrich has also vowed to take his presidential campaign all the way to the Republican convention, which means Romney is still in for a long, hard fight.
Mitt Romney himself appears to be very confident about his chances. In a speech after the Florida primary, he made a small nod to his “serious and able competitors”, but spent most of his time focusing on setting himself against President Obama and glided over his opponents.
A major factor in Romney’s victory in Florida is the massive amount of TV advertising that his campaign and a Super PAC have dedicated to the state. As of January 29th, Romney’s side had spent over $15 million in advertisements, compared to a paltry $3.29 million by Gingrich’s camp. Campaign Media Analysis Group President Ken Goldstein said this is “the most negative campaign” ever in his academic career. Romney does not seem to see a problem, as, “a competitive primary does not divide [the Republican party], it prepares us and we will win.”
The Republican nomination race so far has seen Santorum, Romney and Gingrich take turns at the lead, but Romney still seems to have the best chance. Experts argue that if Gingrich hopes to defeat Romney, he will need to raise massive amounts of funds, and correct his currently poor standing among female voters.
Report: After Florida win, Romney says primary fight is good for GOP [LA Times, 31 January 2012]
Santorum, Paul campaign out West as Florida votes [AP on Boston.com, 31 January 2012]
Report: Mitt Romney’s Florida sweep — and how it changes the presidential race [The Washington Post , 31 January 2012]
Report: Romney wins Florida primary [USA Today, 31 January 2012]
Report: Romney rebounds with victory in Florida GOP primary [NBC Politics, 31 January 2012]
Report: Romney claims victory in Florida [CNN, 31 January 2012]
Report: Romney wins Florida GOP primary, Fox News projects [Fox News, 31 January 2012]
Report: Florida primary: Romney eyes win over Gingrich [BBC UK, 31 January 2012]