With record turnout expected and a wafer-thin poll difference between Mitt Romney and John McCain in Tuesday's Florida primary, bloggers spent the day waiting eagerly for results and trying to figure out what they would mean for the GOP nomination, and the presidential race as a whole. Is this the end (again) of Rudy Giuliani? And how nasty will the soldier and America's Next Top CEO get?
"Losing to Mitt Romney would be a bitter defeat for McCain," writes Craig Crawford at Congressional Quarterly's Trail Mix. "The wealthy, well-born former Massachusetts governor is so Bush-like, giving the appearance of another legacy nominee who could stand in McCain's way." Marc Ambinder notes that "Mitt Romney's had an 8 to 1 television ad advantage in Florida ... part of the reason why he's made the competitive. Heck, most of the reason he's made the race competitive has been his ads."
Did McCain resort to "gay-baiting" in his latest automated phone call sortie against Mitt Romney? Huffington Post's Sam Stein says he has, for airing an ad that runs "Mitt Romney thinks he can fool us. … He told gay organizers in Massachusetts he would be a stronger advocate for special rights than even Ted Kennedy. Now, it's something different." Not quite, responds James Joyner of Outside the Beltway: "Does this amount to 'gay baiting'? That seems a bit much, since the target of the attack is Romney, an open heterosexual. The main thrust of the message is that Romney is a dishonest flip-flopper who'll tell you what you want to hear. But, certainly, the choice of abortion and gay rights among the dozens of issues on which Romney has changed positions to highlight would appear to be aimed at social conservatives."
At Captain's Quarters, Ed Morrissey, himself a Romney man, is angry with McCain for a whole host of other attack angles: "First, McCain calls Romney's health-care system a 'failure', but it has just started out. As Factcheck itself notes, even the conservative Heritage Foundation seems appreciative of its free-market approach. It has provided about 200,000 people with health insurance coverage who didn't have it in less than a year, and the program still is rolling out. It looks more like a work in progress than a success or failure at this point, and only the candidates themselves appear ready to pronounce it as either."
Is Rudy dead? Maybe, maybe not. Most likely maybe, though. "If he somehow pulls off a stunner and places a very, very close 3rd is he back in it?" asks Justin Gardner at Donklephant. "The reason this is even a remote possibility is due to the fact that a large number of Floridians have already cast their ballots, and that was before Rudy's implosion. That's why my gut tells me that there's a real possibility he could do better than he's polling, but ultimately I don't think that's going to matter much."
Sister Toldjah predicts: "Romney over McCain by 3%. I think Rudy might surprise us with a strong 3rd place showing, considering the absentee ballots may favor him as he was once upon a time the frontrunner in the Florida polls."
Stephen Green will drunk-blog the primary results at Pajamas Media.(Disclosure: I'm an editor there.) He's done some electoral calculus and, thanks to the penalties doled out by the national parties for Florida's early primary, "By Florida math, one Florida voter is only worth a quarter of an American voter almost anywhere else.* Republicans only count Floridians as half a voter, and today's Democrat voters won't count at all. Average that out, and it takes about four Sunshine Staters to equal just one of you or me. And we wonder how Florida caused so much trouble in 2000? Brace yourselves for what might happen tonight."
S.V. Date at the New Republic's Plank remembers how Florida does strange things to Republicans: "Last night, McCain finished his campaign day with Crist by his side, in Crist's home turf of Tampa Bay. Some 800 miles to the northeast, President Bush was getting ready to deliver his final State of the Union address to Congress, which McCain, as a senator, is technically a member of. Sort of reminiscent of the day before Crist's election in November 2006, when Bush staged a rally for Crist in Pensacola and Crist found better things to do--like campaign in other parts of the state with McCain."
DemFromCT at Daily Kos gloats over the parlousness of the GOP race: "Pity the GOP voter. They don't like their candidates, they are getting tired of their President, and talk radio keeps yelling at them in betweeen the candidates yelling at each other. Hmmm... it's enough to make a voter vote Democratic. I guess that's why voters keep turning out in record numbers for the contested D primaries. And I can't say I blame them."
Read more about the Florida primary.