ORLANDO, Fla. -- I stayed in Orange County today, one of the key areas of the state, where Orlando, its suburbs, and an assortment of theme parks sprawl over flat, hot, occasionally scenic land. In 2008, Republicans cast 91,914 votes in this primary, the 7th-largest cache in the state, and John McCain narrowly defeated Mitt Romney. So I went on tour, starting in Republican-leaning Winter Park.
Durham Barnes, 70, M.D.., stopped by the vote during his short lunch break. He voted for Mitt Romney, having made up his mind over "the past week."
"He's a little more stable than Gingrich," he explained. The debates had helped him figure that out. Just as he'd voted for the more electable John McCain.
Norma Glasgow, 54, came by on a break from her accounting job. "I voted for Santorum, and I decided on him a year ago," she said. "I love him, I just love him -- his values, his steadfastness, his family."
Neither of them had a deep problem with another possible GOP nominee. (Well, not Ron Paul -- they just didn't mind the other two candidates.) That was what I heard a few miles away, in Orlando, from Justin Spinella, 30, a part-time worker at a gym who was readying to take the exam that would make him a personal trainer. He just thought Romney was the best qualified, the coolest of head.
"I wrote in Romney's name in 2008," he said. "I wrote in my own name in 2004, you know, and in 2008, I thought Romney had a better chance."
At this point, anecdotal study was interrupted by The Law. A tall man in business casual clothes walked past me as I balanced part of my gear (my phone) on my notebook. He came back outside, taking another look. I asked him if he had voted; he glared at me. Moments later, a cop with a washed-out coffee stain arrived and asked me what my purpose was.
"Are you recording people?"
"No," I said. "I told him I was a reporter."
"It looked like you were recording and not telling anyone!" said the tall man, who (I just noticed) was in his truck, about to drive away. "You put your phone in a funny position."
"I wasn't recording," I said. "I ask people before I do that."
He glared at me. "I know a lot about phones," he explained. He drove away, and the cop, realizing the waste of his time, shrugged and drove off to vote.
Based on this experience, I can conclude that... Mitt Romney will probably win tonight.