Monday, January 23, 2012

Polls Show Gingrich Bounce Heading Into Florida

Two polls fresh on the heels of South Carolina show Newt Gingrich pulling out a nice lead in the Sunshine State.

At Rusmussen, "Florida GOP Primary: Gingrich 41%, Romney 32%." And also an InsiderAdvantage poll at Newsmax, "Newt Surges to Lead in Fla., Romney Trails by 8 Points." (Via Memeorandum.)

The buzz on Florida is that it's much more diverse than South Carolina, and hence way more unpredictable. A couple of weeks ago I expected Mitt Romney to basically clinch the nomination in Florida. But that's obviously not happening now. He could win, but all that would do is establish a firm two-man race heading into the next series of primary contests. Frontloading HQ has more, "Musings on the Republican Nomination Race, Post-South Carolina":
The notion of Mitt Romney sweeping or nearly sweeping the January contests and putting the nomination race to rest are gone -- even with a Florida win. But the idea of a momentum contest -- one that will typically develop behind the frontrunner, no matter how nominal -- is not completely dead.  Romney remains the frontrunner. The former Massachusetts governor is viewed as the establishment choice and is the only candidate to this point to have placed in the top two in each of the first three contests. He is still the favorite to build a consensus around his candidacy -- just not as much as he was in the five days or so after the New Hampshire primary.

But the question remains just how will Romney, or any other candidate for that matter, build a consensus and win the nomination. There are two main avenues from FHQ's perspective; one narrow and one fairly broad. The narrow path to the nomination is that Mitt Romney bounces back from the South Carolina primary, wins Florida, uses his organizational advantage over Gingrich and Santorum in the February caucus states, and then wins in Arizona and Michigan. The broader path is one that devolves into a contest-by-contest struggle; a battle for delegates the end game of which is the point where one candidate has a wide enough delegate margin that cannot be overcome given the number of delegates to be allocated remaining.
And see also Wall Street Journal, "The Gingrich Challenge" (via Memeorandum).