Florida’s Primary Election
Florida was among the states setting off a chain reaction of earlier and earlier primary and caucus dates this year. The Republican-dominated Florida Legislature’s decision to move the primary to January 31, 2012 — today — resulted in the most severe penalties possible from the Republican National Committee, including the loss of half of the state’s 100 delegates, lousy hotel rooms, bad seating and fewer VIP passes. (The hotel room issue sounds minor, but anyone who has attended a huge, high-security convention knows that having a close-in hotel is a major perk.) To add insult to injury, Tampa, Florida is the site of this year’s Republican convention, August 27–30.
It’s a redux of the 2008 election cycle, where both parties penalized the Florida delegation.
Update Tuesday evening 1⁄31: Preliminary results with about 3⁄4 of the vote counted are shown at right. Counties won by Gingrich are in red; counties won by Romney in orange.
The Democrats stayed away by mutual consent, and a major battle ensued at the convention over the penalized delegates in Florida and Michigan, a battle Hillary Clinton lost, as she lost the nomination. On the Republican side, the outcome was clear, and the delegates were allowed voting privileges again when the outcome was already established to be Senator John McCain.
Intrade sees this as an easy win for former Massachusetts Governor Willard “Mitt” Romney, giving him a 98 percent chance of a win at this writing. Also competing are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Lake Jackson, TX).
The most recent polls have Romney up by as many as 20 percentage points (Insider Advantage). Suffolk University has Romney up five. Other polls from this weekend (Quinnipiac, PPP, NBC News/Marist, Miami Herald/Mason-Dixon, Rasmussen) fall between this high and low, but all show a substantial lead for Romney. The Real Clear Politics “poll of polls” has Romney at +12.5.
Reportedly, Gingrich is already looking past Florida. Look he might, but he shouldn’t expect much help from the calendar. In February, Maine, Nevada, Colorado and Minnesota will hold caucuses, most of them non-binding, early in the month. There is a gap, then on February 28, Arizona and Michigan will hold primaries. Note that Nevada Republicans are particularly well represented by Mormons, and Michigan is Romney’s home state.
In the end, Florida may have done what they intended by jumping the gun, becoming the de facto “decider” of the 2012 Republican nominee.
- Florida and the politics of delegates (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Mitt Romney Poised For String of Victories (usnews.com)
- Late polls show Romney in Florida lead — CNN (edition.cnn.com)
- Over 600,000 have already voted in Florida primary (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Newt Gingrich vows to press on regardless of Florida outcome (dailykos.com)
- Mitt Romney set to beat Newt Gingrich by double digits in Florida | Harry J Enten (guardian.co.uk)
- Signs Of A Big Romney Win In Florida (outsidethebeltway.com)