Consensus of Polls: It’s Romney in Tuesday’s Florida Republican Primary

Nate Silver looks at a variety of polls and gives us the bottom line: unless there is some huge shift, a consensus of polls indicates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will beat former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Florida’s presidential primary on Tuesday:

You can find pretty much every species of poll in Florida right now.

There are traditional polls and automated polls, Internet polls and partisan polls, academic polls and commercial polls.

There are polls where voters checked a box. There are polls that were reported on Fox.

There are polls that called the voter’s house. There are polls where voters clicked a mouse.

Though the numbers were here and there, the outcome was the same everywhere.

Unless there is a major glitch, Mitt Romney will beat Newt Gingrich.

After some analysis allowing himself a little hedge room he says this:

As it stands now, however, the chance of Mr. Gingrich pulling off an upset in Florida is only about 12 percent, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast model.

Instead, if there is a candidate with upside potential in Florida, it might be Rick Santorum. The most recent polls have shown better results for him, and he now is projected to 15 percent of the vote, up from 11 percent earlier this week.

Mr. Santorum, however, left the campaign trail in Florida to hold fund-raisers in Pennsylvania and Virginia, which could make it harder for him to maximize his momentum.

Indeed, Santorum throughout the debates has shown consistency and passion for the principles he embraces. Some analysts say he really is the one who one Thursday’s debate, but the horserace has focused on Romney and Gingrich.

If Gingrich is indeed defanged it should be a huge relief to Republican bigwigs and a let down for Democrats. Both Romney and Gingrich have flip flopped to the extent that in various incarnations they indeed were more moderate than conservative. Note this: it was Newt Gingrich who has prevented Republicans runnning in the primaries from going totally off the far right deep end on immigration: Texas Gov. Rick Perry as lambasted when he called for a more compassionate approach to immigrant families already living here, but Gingrich was able to veer the polemics back from a “let’s deport ‘em all right now” direction.

If Gingrich emerges as the nominee the GOP has a huge problem: it isn’t so much ideology with Gingrich as much as it is his unpredictability, his apparent view of his own Churchillian greatness, ability to change the planet and intellect. To some voters he’s scary — in his moderate or conservative incarnations. And that’s not even adding the fact that he would come to office as one of the most polarizing figures in American history.

Romney has never been scary — unless you’ve been on a list of those who he was about to happily fire, or his dog as he was about to go on vacation.
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