Mitt Romney has clearly prevailed in his costly and bitter Republican presidential primary fight in Florida against Newt Gingrich, collecting the Sunshine State’s full complement of 50 convention delegates.
Despite Romney’s sizable margin of victory the battle for delegates is far from over as it will take 1,144 committed delegates to secure the nomination. None of the four candidates has indicated he will leave the race, and Romney, the perennial default candidate, has yet to clinch the hearts, minds and, most importantly, the votes, of the conservative base of the Republican Party, which appears more disillusioned than ever with the options.
The longer the brutal primary battle is prolonged — especially with the most recent aggressive, relentless and bloodthirsty tactics of the Gingrich and Romney campaigns — the better President Barack Obama’s reelection chances.
Gov. Romney’s victory came as no surprise. His campaign has focused significant resources in the large Sunshine State, with television ads and a strong organization on the ground. Such a commitment made sense for Romney, whose 2008 campaign essentially ended in Florida with his loss to eventual nominee John McCain.
Also, Florida is technically a winner-take-all state, although controversy exists surrounding that designation because the state GOP violated a new Republican National Committee policy meant to dissuade states from awarding delegates in a winner-take-all format rather than shared proportionally.
Even so, Romney won 50 delegates in Florida, the most of any state so far. Iowa has 28 delegates, New Hampshire 12 and South Carolina 25. Nevada, scheduled to hold party caucuses Saturday, offers 28 delegates.
Rep. Ron Paul essentially bypassed Florida to focus on Nevada.
Paul’s much publicized strategy is to focus on delegate-rich states, signaling his assumption that the race will be lengthy. His assessment is backed up by polling continuing to find dissatisfaction among GOP voters with their choices.
A Pew Research Center poll released Monday found that “Republicans remain unimpressed with their party’s presidential field,” more so than in January. Fifty-one percent of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters polled said the field of candidates was “fair or poor,” according to Pew, an increase of 8 percentage points since the question was posed in December.
Perhaps the rise in Republican trepidation about the candidates reflects the investment in attack ads that have lately dominated the Romney and Gingrich campaigns. And the campaign season is only getting started.
There are 46 states to go for Republicans candidates searching for delegates. While Republicans joust, President Obama and other Democrats sit back and enjoy watching Romney and Gingrich tear each other apart and undermine chances for a Republican to move into the White House next January.