In polls taken after Newt Gingrich’s massive victory in South Carolina , the former speaker has seen his numbers skyrocket, both nationally and in the next primary state, Florida. In the Sunshine State, Gingrich holds a commanding lead over Romney in the Real Clear Politics polling average, 37.7% to 30.3% respectively. In just one week, Romney’s massive lead was destroyed, he fell 10.2% in six days.
Many analysts and pundits believe that Florida could be the firewall, where the final nominee will emerge victorious. Much like how California was to the Republican primary in 2008; where Romney lost to McCain 42.2% to 34.6%, causing Romney to drop out days later. If Romney can not win Florida this time around, does he still have a chance to be the nominee?
Currently, Romney is blessed by Gingrich’s own inefficiency more than anything else. Gingrich, through no fault of anyone besides his own campaigns, is not on the ballot in four states: Ohio, Virginia, Missouri, Illinois as well as the District of Columbia. In total, Gingrich can not compete for 255 of the parties delegates, which is 11% of all the delegates the candidates are of vying for as well as 22% of the total needed in order to become the nominee. So if Romney can beat Rick Santorum and Ron Paul, which he is likely to do, he would automatically be a quarter of the way there to obtain enough delegates and secure the nomination.
Romney also has a security blanket in three very important states: Michigan, Massachusetts, and Utah. These were the only non-caucus states Romney won in 2008 and is expected to win again fairly easily. Obviously, he was the former Governor of Massachusetts. Romney is a Mormon and according to his tax records has given heavily to their church. Mormons comprises nearly 60% of Utah’s population and a greater percentage of the Utah Republican Party. Michigan was the state his father, George Romney, was Governor from 1963 to 1969.
Those three states contain 111 delegates, and most of which will be expected to go to Mitt Romney.
There are several other caucus states that Romney will have a chance to see a strong victory. States with large Mormon populations like Idaho and Nevada as well as states that border Massachusetts such as Maine. These states could also show easy pick ups for Romney.
To pile on the point that Florida is not the “do or die” state the media is claiming it to be; Florida has been stripped of half of its delegates because they attempted to move their primary date. They currently stand at only 50 delegates instead of 90.
All in all, Romney may already have anywhere from 30% to 40% of all the delegates needed to be the nominee in the bag. For Romney, there is going to be life and a campaign after Florida, for as long as Romney wants there to be.