Welcome to sunny Florida!
Following his strong showing in South Carolina, Newt Gingrich rode into the sunshine state leading in the polls and hoping to make it two in a row. What Newt wasn’t expecting was a $15 Million ad war by Mitt Romney and his PAC supporters waiting for him. Mixed with sub-par debate performances since South Carolina, Newt quickly started to see his 9% point lead in the polls slip to a 12% point deficit on election day. Fortunately for Newt, Florida allowed early voting 10 days before the election day, so there was a chance that many of the early votes cast could be in his favor. How well did he do? Let’s look at the results.
Notes on the results:
Newt Gingrich – It was a crushing blow for Newt to lose Florida. Doubts once again surfaced in his ability to survive a national campaign, especially one dominated by negative ads directed against him. But he may have an ace up his sleeve. He is currently challenging the winner-take-all rule in the allotment of the Florida delegates. His campaign is referencing Rule No. 15 that was revised in August 2010. The revision reads:
Rule No. 15: Election, Selection, Allocation, or Binding of Delegates and Alternate Delegates
(1) No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a national convention is held and shall not be subject to the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this rule.
(2) Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.
(3) If the Democratic National Committee fails to adhere to a presidential primary schedule with the dates set forth in Rule 15(b)(1) of these Rules (February 1 and first Tuesday in March), then Rule 15(b) shall revert to the Rules as adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention.
If the Gingrich campaign is successful, the the 50 delegates currently awarded to Romney would be split up with 23 delegates going to Romney, 16 to Gingrich, 7 to Rick Santorum, and 4 to Ron Paul.
Questions and Observations: Frankly, though there are two of them, this is boiling down to GOP voters having a sort of Hobson’s choice – pick one of these two or Obama wins. The problem, of course is that picking either of the two could mean an Obama win, and voters know that. Both are about as much establishment candidates as one could imagine. And neither offer the depth of message that Tea Party and conservative voters are looking for. When watching these two, voters are reduced to wondering which one has the best shot at unseating Obama.
In a lot of ways, this is how many voters feel about the elections. You aren’t voting for someone because they are the best candidate around, but rather the lesser of two evils. Has our nation reached a point where there isn’t a candidate that not only can represent the interests of the vast majority, but also can’t represent the vast majority of their party? Or is it that those candidates choose not to have their lives and that of their family ripped apart in the modern media? Sadly, these are questions we haven’t been able to answer yet.
Connecting.the.dots: Nationally, a new poll shows Newt’s Southern strategy, which won South Carolina. is not only fading in Florida but destroying his candidacy nationally. Head to head, Romney leads Obama by a percentage point, 48-47, but the President hammers Gingrich, 54-40, a turnaround of 17 points since early December.
“Gingrich’s efforts to win the Republican nomination,” says a political scientist, “have set back his efforts to win the general election.” Appealing to Tea Party conservatives has “moved him out of the mainstream of American politics.”
Gingrich reminds me of a weathervane – constantly adjusting against the winds. At first he was running a positive campaign, until he faced negative advertising. Then he was a capitalist until he became a populist to use Romney’s wealth against him. Constantly changing your positions confuse potential voters and eventually turns them off. Sometimes it’s better to be yourself rather than what you think others want you to be.
Space Politics: A harder question to answer, though, is whether Gingrich’s space comments, including his calls for a Moon base by 2020 and even the potential for lunar statehood, more broadly helped or hurt him statewide. Those comments got a lot of attention—far more than Romney’s more pragmatic [proposal] on Friday—including a significant amount of derision and ridicule in the media. It doesn’t show up in exit polls, which found the economy to be by far the most significant issue among voters. But was it lurking in voters’ minds when they cast their ballots Tuesday?
Gingrich’s comments on a manned Moon base did dwarf all other discussions on space during the Florida primary, but maybe for the wrong reason. People were focused on the “folly” of the proposal, with Mitt Romney saying, “If I had a business executive come to me and say they wanted to spend a few hundred billion dollars to put a colony on the moon, I’d say, ‘You’re fired.’” But wasn’t the the 1960′s space race also face similar scorn?
If you think back, beating the Soviets to the Moon wasn’t because of some sort of financial gain. It was a matter of national pride. The nation (and the world for that matter) sat on the edge of the seats while brave men attempted to set food on alien soil. There was a sense of hope that small steps on the Moon might lead to a better future. However, the side effect from the space race was not only an expansion of our knowledge of the solar system, but the technological advances made which has improved our way of life. Advances in flight, computers, the environment, and more can all be traced back to the space race. The investment made back then was returned in full by the expansion of our economy in these secondary markets. Would sending another manned mission to the moon offer the same results? That’s hard to say, but dismissing the idea all together is the true folly.