So, Mitt Romney won the Iowa Caucus last night. Technically. The final vote shows that he won by 8 votes.
He also received exactly 6 votes less than he did four years ago. Think about that. Four years ago he spent $10 million and campaigned hard, only to lose to Mike Huckabee. This year, Romney spent significantly less, and campaigned the least out of all candidates in Iowa — and got the same result.
The pundits are theorizing this is bad for Romney. Romney has been polling at 25% for a really long time. And he received 25% of the vote Tuesday night. “No traction” is what a lot of people are saying. The GOP is still searching for the “Anti-Romney.”
He held serve.
You see, Romney was never going to run away with Iowa. He never topped 25% in polling! This was not about winning Iowa.
It was about bringing down Newt Gingrich.
Sure, the flavor-of-the-week Rick Santorum is getting headlines and has some momentum. That momentum will end in New Hampshire. Romney’s second home. A more liberal voting base than Iowa. An open primary. And the flavor will change. Hunstman has been focusing on the first primary, but can’t seem to get a second look — too bad, he would be my choice.
After New Hampshire, Santorum has a shot in the conservative “First Primary in the South” in the Palmetto State. It fits his base… but Rick Perry is staying in the race, and has more money than Santorum. If Gingrich stays in the race, the “Anti-Romney” vote is split three ways. And that doesn’t count the “Wing-Nut” vote Ron Paul will get. I would bet only one of them would fold after South Carolina – maybe none.
Which brings us to Florida.
Ah, the Sunshine State. The GOP is as diverse as our fair state. Reformed Dixiecrats, seniors who love their government health care, Cuban immigrants, strong evangelicals, and dyed-in-the-wool small government types.
But more important than that. It’s big. Really big. And big means expensive.
Romney will have more money than his competitors. He didn’t use it in Iowa. Doesn’t need it in New Hampshire. Won’t put up much of a fight in South Carolina. But he’s already running ads in Florida.
In 2008, a then-very-popular Florida Governor Charlie Crist endorsed John McCain right before the primary, delivering the state and effectively ending the campaign. Everything else was prologue for McCain.
In 2012, Florida Governor Rick Scott has little support. If he endorsed, it could be a kiss of death for the candidate. Romney’s financial edge – plus the continued split of the Anti-Romney votes – will give him another win. Three out of four.
February is a long tough slough… only caucuses in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, and Maine before the Feb 28th votes in Arizona (and McCain just endorsed Romney) and Michigan (where Romney was born and where he won in 2008).
If the Anti-Romney vote is not unified before or by Florida. Romney will win the nomination.