I decided not to do a live chat during the Florida primary results.  I decided it was a waste of time.  First off I can’t help but be irritated with them because of the mess they made of the primary calendar.  I mean the Iowa Caucus wouldn’t have even happened yet.  Secondly, Mitt Romney’s was a lock for the state so it’s been a boring evening.  The last polls in Florida just closed 24 minutes ago and he’s already declared the winner, and he outspent Newt Gingrich by $12 million.

What I find interesting is what’s ahead.  Public Policy Polling had some interesting results after polling Missouri and Ohio:

Rick Santorum is leading the way for next week’s ‘beauty contest’ primary in Missouri with 45% to 34% for Romney, and 13% for Ron Paul. Newt Gingrich is not on the ballot for that, but he will be in the picture for Missouri’s caucus and leads the way for that with 30% to 28% for Santorum, 24% for Romney, and 11% for Paul.

In Ohio Gingrich is at 26% to 25% for Romney, 22% for Santorum, and 11% for Paul.

What might be most interesting in both states is what happens in a head to head between Romney and either Gingrich or Santorum:

-In Missouri Santorum leads Romney 50-37 and in Ohio Santorum leads 45-38.

-In Missouri Gingrich leads Romney 43-42 and in Ohio Gingrich leads 42-39.

Two takeaways from those numbers: if this ever came down to Romney, Paul, and just one out of Gingrich and Santorum, Romney would be in a lot of trouble. And he’d be in more trouble if the single conservative alternative ended up being Santorum.

Santorum is a stronger long term threat to Romney than Gingrich because he has less baggage and is simply much better liked. Santorum is easily the most popular of the Republican candidates in both Missouri (+42 favorability at 63/21, compared to +20 for Gingrich and +10 for Romney) and Ohio (+35 at 59/24 compared to +10 for both Gingrich and Romney). It’s just proving hard for Santorum to get much traction while Gingrich is still in the race.

Looking at other February contests, there hasn’t really been any real recent polling… the only two other states have had polling done in February.  Things don’t look good for Romney in Minnesota where he is down by 18 points to Gingrich in a Public Policy Poll there.  Romney is only up by 5 points to Gingrich in Michigan in a EPIC-MRA poll.  This is the state where his dad was the Governor.  So even though Romney will win Florida tonight this is far from being a lock.

Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

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