Though its date is still uncertain (as is Arizona’s) the GOP primary in the Sunshine State promises to be as decisive in 2012 as it was in 2008 in deciding the Republican presidential nominee.
Neither Mitt Romney or Rick Perry is likely to run low on cash between now and Florida, so both will still be standing come the big showdown.
Both will likely have at least one or two early wins, with Perry ahead in Iowa and South Carolina and Romney the leader in New Hampshire and Nevada.
And Florida will be crucial to the GOP nominee’s chance of retiring President Obama so a win in Florida will greatly influence the GOP primary electorate that values electability above all other considerations. Romney has a lead in all of the polls in Florida to date, but none have rolled in since Perry’s surge or the opening of the debate on Social Security.
So the endorsements of Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Rick Scott grow larger and larger in importance. Charlie Christ essentially delivered Florida and the GOP nomination to John McCain in 2008. If Rubio and Scott agree on a nominee, it is hard to imagine that individual losing Florida.
Monday night’s debate centered on Social Security, and with the central role given Florida in this cycle, future get-togethers will return again and again to the specifics of the candidates’ programs for reform and will be just as hard-hitting.
Tim Russert is smiling from up above. More than any other national pundit, Russert loved to talk Social Security. By the time we get to the Florida voting, perhaps even the Meet the Press anchor would have concluded the issue had been talked through enough.
And of course the Democrats will talk of nothing but Social Security and Medicare from the moment the GOP’s nominee is settled.