Finally, after the hype, all the analysis and $18 million in commercials (most of it attacking Newt), it's voting day in Florida. So here we are, ready and waiting to see if Floridian seniors will vote for Mitt Romney, whether evangelicals and tea party adherents will show up for Newt Gingrich and whether Boca Raton will vote for Pat Buchanan one last time.
The Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap from last night covered most of yesterday's polling, but one late-breaker in after the post was Public Policy Polling, which came in at Mitt Romney at 39%, Newt Gingrich at 31%, Rick Santorum at 15%, and Ron Paul at 11%. What was interesting for this poll was the consistency:
Our three days of tracking found very little movement in the race: Romney was at 39-40% every day, Gingrich was at 31-32% every day, Santorum was at 14-15% every day, and Paul was at 9-11% every day.No sign of a Gingrich surge there, and the final range of polls was pretty remarkable: everything from a 0.38 point Gingrich lead (Dixie Strategies/The News-Press/First Coast News poll, and do read their explanation of why they might be right!) to Suffolk's "Mitt by 20" (.pdf) and everything in between.
Now, just for fun, and because we have the tools available (thank you, Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin!) I redid the polling graph at
high [less] sensitivity [settings are reversed] and only for January, excluding no poll:
Look at those numbers radically chang... oh, wait. Hmmm. Well, it's money well spent on Obama's ad campaign for the fall. But because this includes the sketchy Ipsos internet poll, let's get rid of that, and look at non-internet polls only, where you can really see the ad war effect:
Please don't extrapolate that to the fall, where Obama is well-funded, a known quantity, and where it's as likely as not that Obama will be re-defining Mitt more than the other way around. It's an unknown factor, but assuredly won't follow the pattern of Romney outspending an underfunded and disliked candidate like Gingrich.
Bottom line is where Nate Silver (97% chance Romney wins) and Intrade (98.8%) have the vote going. If that outlier FL poll is right (and don't count on it), this will be an upset of monumental proportion.
But I don't believe we'll be seeing that, and I think we'll all relish stories about the fading tea party being a non-player in a race that mattered more than any so far. That's what happens when you don't have a narrative or a real purpose other than oppose the President. This year's narrative is economic fairness and the 99%, and there's little room for the tea party to join up with that and not reject Republicans. Since they ARE the Republican base, that leaves them on the sidelines, raging against their own establishment, and going nowhere.
I think I'll give over the sum-up to this terrific Thomas DeFrank headline:
Newt Gingrich is toast, but he can still make a mess of Mitt Romney's coronationHere's hoping he does.
You know, you can substitute "tea party" for "Newt Gingrich" and come to the same conclusion.