Five Things We Learned in Florida

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 1 2012 9:19 AM

Five Things We Learned in Florida

THE SKY --

1) Romney still isn't winning evangelical voters. In South Carolina, 64 percent of voters called themselves "evangelical" or "born again." Gingrich won 45 percent of them, building his lead, and Romney only got 21 percent of them, tying with Rick Santorum. On to Florida, where only 40 percent of voters identified as evangelicals. Romney lost them -- 38 to 36 -- but it just didn't matter. He's still got to sweat the states where it does matter. In Alabama, for example, one of the Super Tuesday states that Gingrich will try to win, 68 percent of 2008 voters called themselves evangelicals. Without reading each and every mind making this decision, we can infer just a little queasiness about Mormonism.

Advertisement

2) It's not just Bill Kristol worrying about this field. Nearly two out of every five GOP voters exited the ballot boxes, picked up their exit poll forms, and scribbled down that they were "unsatisfied" with their choices. That's remarkably lousy! If this turns out to be a short primary, with a lot of pundits paid to talk about stuff but lacking stuff to talk about, there's material here for some more brokered convention/Americans Elect nattering.

3) The Palin and Cain endorsements of Gingrich were basically worthless. Palin, with her trademark combination of haphazardness, pique, and Fox News interviews, spent the week before the primary talking up Gingrich -- voting for him was a vote against "the machine." Herman Cain introduced Gingrich in person on Saturday, and campaigned with him on Monday. The polls picked up no Gingrichmentum from any of this. The exit polls were more clarifying -- voters who decided "in the last few days" broke disproportionately for Rick Santorum, not Gingrich. Santorum, who got 13 percent of the vote statewide, got 22 percent of late-deciders.

4) Rick Perry was a failure of world-historical proportions. On primary day, Rick Perry's extinct presidential campaign released its final donation numbers: $20.1 million. Hours later, he scored 6,742 votes in Florida. How pathetic was this? Four years earlier, in the very same position -- still on the ballot, out of the race -- Fred Thompson won 22,668 Florida votes. So far, adding up all the caucus votes and primary ballots, the Perry campaign (not counting Super PACs) has spent $851.88 per vote.

5) GOP voters: Still bored. Total GOP primary turnout in 2008: 1,949,498. Total turnout this year, before the official count: 1,661,824.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 1:59 PM Ask a Homo: Secret Ally Codes 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.