Thoughts on tonight’s election in Florida:
– There’s no doubt but that Newt Gingrich will lose tonight. But the second biggest loser may be the tea party movement. It was in Florida that the GOP “establishment” – the definition will change according to the Republican at hand – said this far, but no further.
The crowd of old-hands that came out to endorse Mitt Romney and damn Newt Gingrich was extraordinary. John McCain, Bob Dole, Elliot Abrams – the list goes on. But perhaps even more significant is the diminution of the influence of the major voices of the tea party movement.
There is that late endorsement of favorite Herman Cain, of course. And Mark Levin. More important is the lack of punch carried by Sarah Palin, who 18 months ago could take credit for swaying gubernatorial elections, including here in Georgia. Here’s a portion of what the former governor of Alaska posted on Facebook over the weekend, urging Floridians to vote for Gingrich as a means of extending the GOP contest:
”Newt is an imperfect vessel for Tea Party support, but in South Carolina the Tea Party chose to get behind him instead of the old guard’s choice. In response, the GOP establishment voices denounced South Carolinian voters with the same vitriol we usually see from the left when they spew hatred at everyday Americans “bitterly clinging” to their faith and their Second Amendment rights.
“The Tea Party was once again told to sit down and shut up and listen to the “wisdom” of their betters. We were reminded of the litany of Tea Party endorsed candidates in 2010 who didn’t win. Well, here’s a little newsflash to the establishment: without the Tea Party there would have been no historic 2010 victory at all.
But an unending contest isn’t in the rest of a party that faces a President Barack Obama who remains potent despite a struggling economy. The “GOP establishment” indeed learned its lesson in South Carolina. It increased its effort by four or five-fold. Maybe more.
– Exit poll data is limited (all will be cut loose at 8 p.m. EST) but one figure out that’s important: 45 percent of those voting said “electability” was the most important quality they were looking for in a candidate.
– Another important number for the night: White evangelicals went for Newt Gingrich, according to exit polls, but only by 39 percent to 36 percent.
– Gingrich’s real problem in Florida: Women preferred the once-married Romney by 51 percent to the thrice-married Gingrich, at 29 percent.
–The first, best exit-poll summary comes from the New York Times. Check it out here. One of Gingrich’s bright spots: He had the support of 43 percent of those who identified themselves as “very conservative.”
– Reposted from earlier today: Juiced by super PACs, this year’s presidential contest has seen a 1600 percent increase in interest-group sponsored TV ads over 2008, according to a study by the Wesleyan Media Project of Middleton, Conn.
Consider the following:
Even though Romney has not been on the airwaves as much as he was in 2008, his campaign and its allies have dominated the airwaves in Florida, airing almost 13,000 ads on broadcast television across the state, as of Wednesday, the 25th…[Newt] Gingrich and his interest-group allies have aired only about 200 spots, with [Ron]Paul and [Rick] Santorum out of the broadcast television game.
That’s a 65:1 ratio. Twenty percent might be pretty good for Gingrich tonight.
– In the morning, these are the Florida counties that I’ll be looking at: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsen, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, and Wakulla. They make up the greatest part of the Florida Panhandle, which demographically is more like Georgia than any other part of the Sunshine state. If Mitt Romney posts extraordinarily big numbers in these counties, he’ll have an incentive to bring a large effort to Georgia on Super Tuesday. The last thing that Gingrich wants to do is spend a large part of his treasure in a state that should be a freebie, based on his long tenure here as a member of Congress.
Right now, Escambia County, the western-most in Florida, is edging toward Romney.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider