Romney Building A Firewall In Florida?

Regardless of what happens in South Carolina, Mitt Romney seems to be going for a final knockout punch in Florida.

Right now the attention of the political press is focused on South Carolina, which holds its primary in just 9 days. However, the Florida primary that closes out January happens only ten days afterwards and, right how, Mitt Romney seems to be holding a commanding lead:

Mitt Romney is now running away with the race in the latest Rasmussen Reports’ survey of the end-of-the-month Florida Republican Primary.

Coming off his decisive win in Tuesday’s New Hampshire Primary, Romney earns 41% support with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich a distant second at 19%. A new telephone survey of Likely Florida Republican Primary Voters finds former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum running third with 15% of the vote.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former Utah Governor Jon Hunstman are next with nine percent (9%) and five percent (5%) support respectively. The two men finished second and third in New Hampshire where independents are allowed to vote in the primary. The Florida primary is open to Republican voters only. Texas Governor Rick Perry runs dead last among primary voters in the Sunshine State with two percent (2%) support. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate in the race, and eight percent (8%) are undecided.

This is Rasmussen so, one could say that the usual caveats apply. However, Florida is a closed primary, meaning the only people allowed to vote will be people already registered as members of the Republican Party. Given that many of the criticisms of Rasmussen’s polling model are the extent to which it overstates Republicans in its base demographics, that wouldn’t really apply in this case. So, arguably, we’re getting a fairly accurate picture.

In any event, here’s where RealClearPolitics has the race right now:

There are some indications that the race in South Carolina is tightening, although it still seems quite likely that Romney will be the favorite in the Palmetto State as we get closer to primary day. However, even if Romney fails to deliver a knockout punch on January 21st, it’s looking like he’ll be able to do it ten days later. For one thing, he is arguably the only candidate with the possible exception of Newt Gingrich who will have the money to compete in Florida, where television advertising is the primary means of reaching voters. Second, he is apparently the only candidate with an extensive organization in the state, including strong support in Miami’s Cuban community. Finally, early voting in Florida begins on the same day as the South Carolina Primary. Romney’s money and organizational advantages will allow him to reach out to those early voters, many of whom are going to be making up their mind in the coming week if they haven’t done so already.1

Of course, if Romney wins South Carolina decisively, then Florida will likely be where this race ends just as it was in 2008.

1 This brings up another point to keep in mind about Florida polls. Given the fact that at least some percentage of the selectorate will be voting between January 21st and January 30th, the polling we’ll be seeing is both potentially more important and less useful. More important because polls on, say, January 23rd may reflect at least partly how the early voting is going. Less useful because its harder to craft a likely voter model when the window for voting is ten days long.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    At this stage of the game this is akin to a prime Mike Tyson going after a featherweight. Stated another way, when Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are all that’s standing between you and the nomination then the fat lady already has belted her lungs out.

  2. Tano says:

    The results of one primary tend to effect the dynamics of the next, especially early in the game. If Romney loses SC, he will have a considerable downward momentum which would significantly undercut the possibility of a Florida knockout punch.

  3. MBunge says:

    The argument against Florida as a firewall for Romney is that the field will almost certainly shrink after South Carolina. If they don’t do better than they are now in polls, Huntsman and Perry will almost certainly be gone. Santorum might stick around, but it he comes in a distant third, he’ll be largely marginalized. That leaves Newt, Mitt and the Doctor.


  4. Tillman says:

    And let’s not forget Paul’s enthusiasm squad, which will bus down to Florida the night after South Carolina. Romney might start to pale in voters’ minds when confronted with legions of adoring young people willing to spend your entire morning discussing the merits of their candidate.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    All that’s standing between Romney and the nomination is Romney. It is now painfully clear that Romney is not a “job creator,” but a rapacious pseudo-capitalist predator who drained businesses of cash, drove them into bankruptcy, threw thousands of people out of their jobs and did it all to line his own already very wealthy pockets. A greedy little prick who screwed working people for his own profit.

    Says who? Says his fellow Republicans.

    The attack ads aren’t running in Florida yet. Don’t count your polls until they do.

  6. David M says:

    @michael reynolds: If the other GOP nominees decide they are in it for the nomination and keep up the attacks it’s anyones game. Romney is very vulnerable to attacks like this in states that have higher unemployment. People may tolerate Romney/Bain making money when they invest in successful companies, although this will be tested when Romney releases his tax returns. I can’t imagine the stories of Bain still making out like bandits while the company declares bankruptcy won’t doom his candidacy (as they should).

  7. michael reynolds says:

    This is a nice Romney video.

  8. A voice from another precinct says:

    @michael reynolds:

    It is now painfully clear that Romney is not a “job creator,” but a rapacious pseudo-capitalist predator who drained businesses of cash, drove them into bankruptcy, threw thousands of people out of their jobs and did it all to line his own already very wealthy pockets. A greedy little prick who screwed working people for his own profit.

    You say that as though it was a bad thing. For people who think Ayn Rand is the greatest philosophical mind of the millenium, what’s not to like?

  9. Retha says:

    @michael reynolds: There is plenty of prove that Romney is a job creator. Newt Gingrich ads are misquotes taken out of context because he is mad at Romney. There is an article on the internet written by Dan Primack on Jan. 12 by CNN Business Fortune call The “Bain bomb” is full of wet fuses”. He lists all the misinformation the ads have put out on the companies that it claims Mitt Romney destroyed. Also There were plenty of companies Mitt Romney saved. You also need to read the article in the New York Daily News Jan. 12, 2016 quoting Peter King (R) repres. called Newt Gingrich deluding himself if he thinks he’ll win Republican nomination” It is a very good article. He knew Newt when he was speaker of the house. Most of congress would not endorse Newt. They don’t like him. Peter King called Newt is thesingle most narcissist guy he knows. People that know Mitt Romney says he is very trust worthy.
    You have been taken in by the ads and very gullible.

  10. An Interested Party says:

    People that know Mitt Romney says he is very trust worthy.

    Ha! And you call anyone else gullible…

  11. grumpy realist says:

    @Retha: The question isn’t whether the attacks on Romney about Bain are “accurate”, it’s whether people will believe them. Since Romney comes off as a cold robot unable to empathize with your average blue-collar worker, the theme that he was perfectly willing while at Bain to loot pension funds, drive companies into bankruptcy, and throw thousands of people out of work just so that the venture capitalists got 5 times return on their investment rather than 3 times—well, trying to affix that image to Romney is what Gingrich is trying to do and he’s got a very good chance of success.

    When you have to argue about the nuances of what the other side is saying about you, you’re losing.

  12. John Burgess says:

    Lucky me! Santorum is scheduled for a stop in my Florida town on Jan. 29.

  13. Fiona says:

    @michael reynolds:

    This is a nice Romney video.

    Man, that was cold and truly shows Romney’s less-than-human side. Put together a few more videos like that one and you don’t have to do anything else to make the case that Romney not only doesn’t understand average Americans, but doesn’t understand human beings and human emotions period.

  14. MBunge says:

    @Retha: “There is plenty of prove that Romney is a job creator.”

    Bain was not in the business of “creating jobs”. That’s the whole point.