The Fat Lady Hasn’t Sung, But She’s Warming Up
If I were a national Republican operative, I’d be very worried about tonight. If I were a Mitt Romney fan, I’d be ecstatic. The Romney win in Florida was huge. He won the hispanic vote. He split tea party activists and evangelicals. He won where people live. Gingrich won the panhandle and largely tied in the few northern Florida population centers, but it was Romney’s night.He is on the way toward the nomination. The fat lady is warming up. But it is not a done deal yet. He still has a fractured base and lost the heart of the base. He has trouble with tea party activists and evangelicals though he roughly tied with Gingrich in capturing their support, and he has trouble with strong conservatives. Nonetheless, his get out the vote operation was a phenomenal success and the 15 to 1 advertising ratio in his favor clinched it for him. Ron Brownstein has a solid analysis on Romney’s win.It is worth noting that in the last week of the race only 0.1% of advertising was pro-Romney and roughly 70% was anti-Gingrich.The panhandle held for Gingrich, which is more typical of a number of upcoming primaries than the rest of the state.Here’s why I’d be nervous if I were a GOP operative. Turn out, at first projected to exceed 2008’s primary level, turned out to be less than 2008. 57% of Republican voters said they want a different choice. That does not spell excitement or unity headed into November. Republicans can only wave the Supreme Court in front of the base for so long.And then there is one bit of data worth noticing. If you add Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum together, they come in a point behind Mitt Romney. But add in the bitter candidate clingers who just can’t let go (I kid because I love) of Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Herman Cain and suddenly, suddenly, the non-Romney’s win without even adding in Ron Paul.