Jan 30th, 2012
As tomorrow's Florida Primary approaches, the conventional wisdom is that Romney is going to blow his opposition, principally Newt Gingrich, out of the water. The latest polling shows a more than 10 point lead for Mitt. There is some truth to Newt's accusation that the Romney camp has been "carpet-bombing" that state with negative ads. The latest data shows Gingrich having been outspent 5 to 1 according to TPM:
"...the total ad spending through Tuesday in Florida by the Romney campaign and its allied super PAC, Restore Our Future, is $15,340,000. The total spending for Gingrich’s campaign and his super PAC, Winning Our Future, is $3,390,000."
I think the final tallies tomorrow could be surprising. Walter Shapiro makes the case for an upset driven by Florida's elderly GOP base:
"Up until now, Gingrich has been especially successful at appealing to the I-remember-the-invasion-of-Grenada voting bloc. In Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, according to exit polls, there was a powerful, but little-noticed, straight-line trend—the older the voter, the higher the level of Gingrich support. Since Gingrich finished fourth in both Iowa and New Hampshire, this age skew did not fit into a convenient campaign narrative. But in South Carolina, it was key to the Newtonian bomb that leveled the political landscape and sent the GOP establishment into full panic. Gingrich support in the January 21 primary rose from 28 percent among the small slice of under-30 votes to 40 percent among middle-aged Republicans to 47 percent among South Carolina voters mature enough to collect Medicare."
The GOP base is angry and fracturing. In Florida, it is also demographically older than the previous state contests.
If the eleventh hour passes prior to the casting of ballots and Newt doesn't have some extra trick up his sleeve, I think Mitt will still take it. However, I also the margins will be substantially tighter than they look right now.