After Saturday’s results in South Carolina what possibly might be the Republicans next act look like as the campaign moves on to Florida. The Romney team is depressed but stoic and the Gingrich folks are elated. Santorum emerged with a victory—in Iowa–although three weeks late in a primary for which he now gets no windfall. Meanwhile, Ron Paul just keeps trucking.
So what do we have?
1. It will be quite a week. Tonight is the first post-South Carolina debate at the University of South Florida, tomorrow is President Obama’s State of the Union Address, and Thursday night is the second Florida debate at the University of North Florida.
2. After Florida, the American people will get a respite as political activity will slow down considerably until Super Tuesday on March 6.
3. President Obama can continue to look on bemused as he considers how self-destructive can and will the Republicans be as they help his re-election campaign, by providing all the ammunition that he will need this fall—regardless of who the nominee eventually will be.
4. Everyone is suddenly aware as if there were not enough strange events in this year’s campaign, what is projected to be approximately 20 percent of the Florida Republicans who have already voted in the newly designed system permitting early voting. (This growing phenomenon had an honorable purpose, but it seems now to be raising many of the issues about which critics were concerned. The events last week in South Carolina clearly did not impact the early voters. The positive desire to increase voter participation has the effect in primaries and will as well in the general election of having people vote with different levels of information and/or at different moments in the campaign. Primaries inherently have voters in different states voting under different conditions. It is questionable, based on what is transpiring, whether early voters in the general election are likely to make better, more informed choices given early voting.)
5. Debates and the media are this year’s playing field levelers. No need any longer to press much flesh or drink coffee in diners, it is the debates which have been pivotal, and they are free.
6. On the other hand, money to reach big markets will be critical in Florida which is what the SuperPACS can facilitate, and they will become even more essential by Super Tuesday.
Stay tuned those still on board look like they will be here for a while.