Can Newt Gingrich Ride His South Carolina Wave of Success into Florida?

Newt Gingrich won in blowout fashion Saturday night, scoring 41 percent of the vote with 86 percent of South Carolina’s districts reporting as of this writing.

Mitt Romney finished in a distant second with 27 percent, Rick Santorum finished third with 17 percent and Ron Paul finished last with 13 percent.

So how does Florida look for Newt? He’s got momentum and money will no doubt be coming in as a result of the victory.

Here’s the latest polling from Real Clear Politics :

Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul: 40.5% 22% 15% 9%

Look for Romney’s numbers to drop over the next few days, Gingrich’s to rise. With the Florida Primary scheduled for January 31, the question becomes, “Can Newt keep that momentum for 10 days?”

Newt can ride the wave of his success with two Florida debates on the schedule prior to vote night on January 31. Newt’s debate performances in South Carolina are without question what secured him the win in the Palmetto state. In contrast, after Mitt’s win in New Hampshire, the polling for South Carolina looked much the same for him as it does now for Florida. So with that in mind, Romney decided to play defense and cautious during the South Carolina debates. It cost him. He can’t afford to play defense in Florida, he has to go on offense to win.

For Rick Santorum, his strategy in South Carolina was to contrast himself to the other GOP candidates without going negative. It’s working for him. He’s got 10 days to expand on his message and I’ve got a bit of a caveat to go along with that. Newt always manages to shoot himself in the foot. If he does it in Florida, that gives a boost to Santorum.

To this point, Ron Paul has exercised a strategy to attack anyone, with a peculiar focus on attacking candidates he considered a surging threat to beating him out for second place. He can’t do that anymore. With only four candidates left, Paul is last both in the national and Florida polls. It will be interesting to see if Paul changes his approach.

Florida has 50 delegates up for grabs, winner take all.

Mike Thayer is Eastern Iowa’s most vocal conservative, offering the Heartland perspective. Providing news analysis and a unique take on the issues of the day, Mike is Sick Of Spin! View profile

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