The Fix: Mitt Romey

Five counties to watch in the Florida primary

Today’s Florida primary features the largest and most diverse electorate of any contest to date in the Republican presidential primary fight.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney enters election day with a clear polling lead although former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pledged this morning that “I’m not going to lose big in Florida.”

Most precincts — 94 percent, actually — close at 7 p.m. eastern time while a handful of polling places in the state’s Panhandle region close at 8 p.m.

Given the size and complexity of the Florida electorate, we polled a bunch of Sunshine State Republican strategists in search of the five counties they will be watching as leading indicators of not only who will win tonight but also of how the swing state is trending heading into the general election.

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Newt Gingrich’s rise — in one chart

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s rise (again) in the presidential race has been as meteoric as it has been surprising.

Nothing captures that ascent as well as Gallup’s latest tracking poll, which, when viewed from even a slight distance, captures the new normal of the presidential race.

The orange line below tracks Gingrich’s standing in the Gallup poll since early November. The black line represents the poll numbers of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

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Can Ron Paul win Iowa? Yup.

Can Ron Paul win Iowa? Yup.

Fifteen days out from the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses there’s one question on the collective mind of the political world: Can Ron Paul actually win?

The Texas Republican is, without question, far better organized in the state than he was in 2008 when he placed fifth in the state’s caucuses. And, he has been on television for months with commercials that are a vast improvement over the this-looks-like-it-was-done-in-my-parents’- basement ads that he ran in the last race. (The improvement in Paul’s ads is due to the underrated Jon Downs.)

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Rick Perry: The most electable GOP candidate?

One in an occasional series of posts looking at the most important number in politics; check out past “MINP’s” here.

42

A single number in the new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released this morning epitomizes the challenge before former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney when it comes to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.


Texas Governor and Presidential hopeful Rick Perry, gives a "thumbs up" sign to supporters as he leaves a town hall meeting hosted by Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C., at Horry-Georgetown Technical College on Monday Sept. 5, 2011 in Conway, S.C. (AP Photo/Willis Glassgow)

Asked which of the Republican candidates had the best chance of beating President Obama next November, 42 percent chose Perry while 26 percent named Romney. No other candidate won double-digit support.

Couple those numbers with the fact that three-quarters of Republicans in that same poll say they prefer a candidate who can beat Obama to one that agrees with them on every issue and you begin to see the shape of Romney’s potential problem.

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