The problem with Florida is that it comprises a pastiche of viewpoints and backgrounds from all across the country, reflecting its transplant makeup. It has no indigenous political character of its own, so it needs to follow someone else’s cue. Florida usually validates the front runner in a race, because as I’ve said before, Floridians are so lackadaisical that they tend to vote for the person they’ve heard of (Exhibit A: Governor Rick Scott, who bought the airwaves before his election. Now you can’t find anybody who’ll admit to having supported him).
An exception to this rule is Rudolph Giuliani, who came down here when he was running for president, expecting to corral Florida and its rich trove of delegates because there were so many transplants from the New York area, and he figured they’d know who he was. Ultimately, that turned out to be his Achilles’ heel. They certainly did know who he was.
So Mitt Romney’s strategy rested on three-for-three victories in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The Inevitability Express would then steam into Florida and pick up the votes of those who had resigned themselves to running a cardboard cutout figure in the general election.
Now he is one-for-three, and he is about to discover that the trademark lack of commitment on the part of Florida voters of all stripes makes his support about a millimeter deep. They will, for lack of a better reason, back a winner. It’s too bad Romney won New Hampshire and lost South Carolina, rather than the reverse. The average Floridian’s political memory has an span of about forty-five seconds, so he will remember Newt Gingrich as a winner and Romney as a loser.
Should Gingrich snag the brass ring, the real winner of the Florida Republican Primary will be Barack Obama, but we’ll keep that to ourselves.