Take heart, conservatives. No matter who wins this evening (yes, Romney is the favored according to all the pollsters...Florida, oh, Florida), this presidential race is far from over. With Gingrich atop the national poll averages & making his intentions known that he'll stay in through the party's national convention, and Santorum looking beyond Florida (already campaigning in Missouri and Minnesota yesterday) & likewise voicing that he sees a definite reason to stay in, this race will grind on to Super Tuesday (March 6) and very likely through the summer.
Thus far, here are the stats we're realistically looking at:
- Among the first three caucus/primaries, Santorum won Iowa (Romney came in 2nd), Romney won New Hampshire, Gingrich won South Carolina (Romney in 2nd, Santorum in 3rd).
- In the delegate count, Newt leads with 23, Romney has 21 and Santorum has 13. 1144 delegates are needed to secure the nomination.
If Romney wins Florida, that would give the frontrunner a mere two state lead out of only the first four, or better yet, out of 50! Then adding Florida's winner-takes-all 50 delegates to Romney's count would raise him to 6.2% of the votes needed to secure, well, anything. How does that Carpenter's song go..."We've only just begun..."
Some may be worried about a drawn out primary, but these concerns are overblown and are primarily coming from those who'd prefer to proclaim 'Carpe diem' well in advance of the game's proper conclusion (whether that be McCain wanting to end the debates or Gingrich wanting Santorum to drop out). Romney bowed out about a week from now this time in '08, and Huckabee stayed in until Super Tuesday. Does anyone also recall how long the Obama/Clinton primary lasted? Yep, that battle lasted until June. So it's a little early to once again proclaim victory on any front. Let's wait until at least Super Tuesday (with 22 states having primaried candidates) to pop any corks. However, with a primary season like the one that's lining up, even that might be too early to celebrate. As I continue to say, leave your crystal balls in the closet, unless you'd prefer them shattered.