As soon as the last polls in western Florida closed yesterday at 8:00, Mitt Romney was declared the winner
of the Florida primary. Last week I had made a prediction about the outcome - I couldn't have been more wrong. I was certain Gingrich would win, with Romney second, Paul third, and Santorum fourth.
Perhaps I didn't consider the typical FL Republican primary voter. Knowing that a lot of FL is like Georgia (except jet skis instead of 4 wheelers - and a LOT more retired people), I figured the redneck vote would go to Newt, and his white hair (and severe social conservatism) would appeal to the older crowd. I also have seen Paul consistently get 10-20% of the vote and assumed the Paul-bots would show up to annoint their leader.
It seems, though, that Santorum siphoned off enough of the social conservative vote to bump him up and pull Gingrich down. I am sure that is partly due to Gingrich being completely unlikeable, and - "quite frankly" - a complete douchebag. He had the gall to wait until nearly 9:30 before giving his concession speech. It's normally considered polite for the losers to go first, and the winner last, but Romney apparently got tired of waiting (or maybe he was just giddy) and went first.
I also may have assumed that every state in the union had an equal distribution of Paul-bots, but that does not appear to be the case. I also think Paul's message of small government rings tone deaf on retirees living on Social Security and Medicare.
The commentators made a couple of good points last night that bode well for President Obama. First is that the vast amount negative campaigning from Romney seemed to help Romney intitially close the gap, then rise past Gingrich in the polls to victory. This success story presumes that negative campaigning will be the modus operandi for both camps moving forward.
The other point is that the scorched earth campaigning will hurt the eventual nominee in the long run. Gingrich (and the super PACs supporting him) will pull out all the stops between now and Super Tuesday. Romney will be blasting Gingrich with both barrels.
By the time the Republican convention gets here and the REAL presidential campaign begins, the survivor will be a bloody stump dragging a ton of baggage. It will be very difficult for the losers to support him without the entire lot of them looking like hypocrites. The general public will have seen the ads and already have a sour taste in their mouths.
Would things have turned out differently if one of the candidates went positive? We'll never know, but I certainly hope so. It should
be a shoo-in for President Obama in November, but the hate is strong in the right-wing, and they will bring the negativity against him as well. I certainly hope the President doesn't respond in kind when that days comes. I'd like to see a positive outlook and campaign prevail.