With Perry gone and Newt’s second resurrection complete, non-Romney supporters seem to have found their man in Newt. I predicted Santorum would probably pull a Huckabee and win in Iowa. I also predicted Romney would easily win New Hampshire. South Carolina was the setup for the defining moment in this race scheduled for January 31 in Florida. Had Romney won South Carolina, he would nearly have Florida locked up. Instead, Romney will be going for the fight of his life again in Florida. He has one week to show South Carolina is a fluke, because if Newt Gingrich can come back and beat Romney so handily in South Carolina based solely on a two strong debate performances, Romney has already lost the electability argument. Newt swept all but two counties.
Liabilities for Newt include a strong negative campaign against him in Florida which is already underway. Also, Santorum may not realize it, but he is in danger of doing to Newt what Huckabee did to Romney in 2008. Newt was right, Santorum should get out of the race. However, one thing is clear: Romney is not breaking out of his support base and he has fewer opponents to split the remaining votes. If Santorum were to drop out of the race, Romney may as well join him.
Floridians watch a lot of TV. They also are concerned with electability. I will repeat my prediction that the key in the race for Florida will be the January 27th debate in Jacksonville Florida. If Newt does well in that debate, the momentum from South Carolina will carry him. If Newt wins Florida, it will be very difficult for Romney to make a comeback. If Newt loses in Florida, then the assessment that non-Romney supporters need to make is what Newt plus Santorum’s votes combined would have been.
Oh, and one last parting thought. The late breaking rumor is that Jeb Bush, the most popular Florida governor in decades, is choosing to stay neutral. Most had been expecting him to endorse Romney. I think Jeb sees the writing on the wall.
Filed under: Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich Tagged: | debate, florida, Gingrich, Huckabee, jacksonville, jacksonville florida, Jeb, Jeb Bush, jeb stays neutral, landslide, mitt, negative ad, newt, newt sweeps SC, Romney, santorum, South Carolina, unf