Mitt Romney’s decisive victory in Florida by 14 percentage points (46%-32%) over Newt Gingrich is not only a huge momentum booster for his campaign, it also reestablishes the “inevitability” narrative that Mitt had lost coming out of his South Carolina defeat.
After looking at the exit polling data, it’s pretty clear that the issue of electability was the decisive one. Forty six percent of Florida voters said the ability to defeat President Obama in November was the most important consideration that influenced their vote, a percentage that very neatly aligns with Romney’s final tally, and that’s likely to remain a statistic that remains in Romney’s favor throughout the month of February. Rick Santorum finished with 13% and Ron Paul with 7%.
Newt Gingrich had a real shot to win Florida 10 days ago, but his subpar performances in both Florida debates combined with an avalanche of Romney ads on the airwaves caused Gingrich’s lead to evaporate just days after the South Carolina Primary. Gingrich also damaged his own cause with his proposal to establish a permanent moon colony by the end of his second term, which definitely undermined his fiscal conservative bona fides.
Gingrich is vowing to continue the primary fight with his newly adopted “46 States To Go” campaign slogan.