As I’ve followed this GOP campaign, it always appeared to me that Mitt Romney was setting up Florida as his firewall, after what I assumed would be a dismal showing in South Carolina. If these American Research Group numbers are anything to go by, he should be so lucky.
Newt at 50%, with the primary still two months away, and only 10% undecided in a crowded field? We can glean two things.
First, Newt has pretty much closed the deal with the undecideds and has been the primary beneficiary of Herman Cain’s implosion. Romney has lost some support in Florida, and Cain nearly all of his, but those together still aren’t nearly to push Newt up to 50%. The undecideds in Florida have largely made up their minds for Gingrich.
Second, Florida might be leaning more red than I previously thought — even if Newt is the nominee. The caveat being, if we go to war with Iran — or if Obama explicitly supports an Israeli war with Iran — then the President could heal his wounds with Jewish voters and lock Florida back down. That strikes me as a longshot, however.
I suppose there is a third thing, after all. If, on primary day, Gingrich grabs 50% or more of the delegates in a state as large as Florida, then he could have the trail to the nomination blazed as early as January 31.