COMMENTARY | Not fazed by the alleged claim of an open marriage just two days before the Republican primary, South Carolina voters overwhelmingly supported Newt Gingrich for his first primary win. Sure one can point to Gingrich’s stellar debate performances, his grandiose ideas, his candid intellect, his prior government experience, both Sarah Palin and Chuck Norris’ support; however, South Carolina voters want a person to who can debate and beat Barack Obama in November. Voters tended to overlook Gingrich’s moral faults and instead rallied around his potential.
Significance of South Carolina – Gingrich’s win of South Carolina is monumental for three reasons.First, ever since 1980, the Republican winner of South Carolina has gone to win the Republican primary. Second, the demographic of South Carolina is a decent demographic representation of the United States as a whole. Lastly, a majority of voters made their mind up within the last two days. Many people have their minds made up beforehand and for Newt to gain undecided voters at the last minute is great. These three factors together will culminate into an interesting Florida primary because Newt has come from almost nowhere into the potential nominee overnight.
Sunshine State – The demographic of Florida is an interesting because of the diverse ethnic, age, racial, and religious groups. According the recent 2010 Census, the population of Florida is almost 19 million, 17 percent are over 65, 57 percent are white, and 26 percent of the population’s primary language is not English. In addition, Florida is the fourth most populous state in the country.
One interesting caveat is that because Florida set their primary date before March 6, only 51 delegates are up for grabs. The GOP set this rule of cutting the delegates in half is to deter states from moving their primary dates up.
Newt Wins Florida? – Because the Republican primary has been such an interesting race so far and not to be outdone, I believe the Florida winner will not be Newt. Although Newt has momentum, he has not had the best political organization i.e., Newt is not even on the Virginia primary ballot. I make a bold prediction that Mitt Romney’s message, which resonates well with Florida’s older GOP base, will propel Romney to secure the 2012 Florida primary.
2010 U.S. Census
AFP News. S. Carolina Voters Struggle to Pick a Candidate
CBS News. South Carolina Exit Polls: 2/3 Say Debate Mattered
Truth About Bills. Why South Carolina Matters to The Republican Party
Tampa Bay Times. Florida Gambles with Setting Presidential Primary for Jan. 21, 2012
South Carolina Republican Party. Presidential Primary History