Romney campaign stronger after Fla.
Published: Sunday, February 5, 2012
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:02
With two wins now under his belt, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took 46 percent of the vote in Tuesday's Florida Republican primary. That dealt a large blow to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign, despite a strong win for Gingrich in South Carolina's primary.
While Romney's campaign grows in strength after Florida's results, elections held on Super Tuesday leave 467 delegates in 11 states up for grabs. Key players in Super Tuesday's primaries include Georgia and Tennessee, with 76 and 58 delegates, respectively, where Gingrich has strong support.
Despite a strong foothold in southern states where Gingrich has a chance to gain momentum, money will inevitably be an uphill battle for the GOP hopeful, as campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond pointed out. "We're not like the Romney campaign where we can choose this pile of money or this pile of money," Hammond told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
However, with financial backing such as a $10 million contribution from Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his wife prior to the primaries in South Carolina and Florida, it is unlikely that the Gingrich campaign will struggle competing against Ron Paul or Rick Santorum in terms of financial support.
Outside of Paul's losses thus far, his congressional history in Texas presents a wild card for the state's primary election with 155 delegates. Paul's possible win in the Lone Star state would set an interesting pace, but is still unlikely to give him the Republican nomination when he is this far behind in the primaries to begin with. If he wins in Texas but drops out of the race, Paul's possible endorsement of either Romney or Gingrich is a hefty one, however, with that many delegates at stake.
In Florida, 62 percent of voters pointed to the economy as the most important issue in the election campaign, according to a CBS News poll. Forty-five percent acknowledged that the most important candidate trait is that they could beat President Barack Obama, but how many people will vote strictly along party lines in the general election simply to oust Obama?
Florida's reputation as a swing state is imperative when considering a potential Republican win in the general election, yet 39 percent of Florida Republican voters reported in a CBS News poll that they were unhappy with the choice of candidates on the ballot, indicative of a possible repeat of results seen in the 2008 election as Florida voted for Obama.
Romney's comments regarding his federal income tax rate of 15 percent and that he is "not concerned about the very poor" only serve to contradict the key issues fueling Republican voters in the Sunshine State. Gingrich capitalized on those remarks, drawing a distinct comparison between himself and Romney. But upcoming debates in Arizona and California prior to Super Tuesday can help tip this narrow contest, as 64 percent of voters in South Carolina and two-thirds of voters in Florida reported that the debates were an important factor. Romney has consistently been the more articulate, more concise speaker in the previous candidate debates and shows no signs of slowing down now.
The reach of Romney's campaign finances also gives him an advantage in upcoming primaries such as Michigan, where the other three candidates simply don't have the funds to advertise as thoroughly. If donations are any forecast of votes to come, the $1.6 million sum raised in Michigan for Romney's campaign speaks for itself.
With an affluent campaign budget and the euphoria following previous victories, Romney is shaping up to be the prominent Republican contender to take on Obama in the November 2012 general election.