Political Animal


February 01, 2012 8:10 AM Florida: The Spin Begins

By Ed Kilgore

My post last night covered the basics about what happened in Florida, but here are a few add-ons. Romney’s final margin was a bit larger than the exits suggested, coming it at 14.5% (Nate Silver’s projections look mighty good indeed). For people with a mechanical way of looking at things, the fact that Romney’s vote slightly exceeded the combined vote of Gingrich and Santorum is significant. Turnout in Florida was down from 2008, as was the case in Mitt’s last victory in NH.

Now, of course, begins the crucial period of post-primary spin in which the candidates try to impose a favorable interpretation on what happened and what, if anything, it means going forward. It’s a particularly crucial moment for Newt Gingrich, who must convince the news media, party elites, Tea Party activists in states with upcoming contests, and a certain audience of one in Las Vegas (financial sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson) that he still has a chance.

Over at TNR, I have a column up making the case that Newt is a “zombie candidate” who is basically wasting his and everybody else’s time. But I have no idea if this sort of logic will be compelling to Gingrich, a man who sees Winston Churchill in the bathroom mirror each morning, or to his key backers. And there is certainly an argument to be made that in an electoral cycle as strange as this one has already been, nobody can be blamed for sticking around and seeing if something else weird is just around the corner.

I’ll have some more analytical thoughts about the Florida results in a bit.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • berttheclock on February 01, 2012 8:23 AM:

    Sorry for an off thread comment, but, big win for the Democratic Party in the 1st Congressional District (NW Oregon),yesterday, where Suzanne Bonamici defeated the Republican "moderate" Cornilles, for the vacated Wu seat. Bonamici ran on the Democratic platform of protecting both Social Security and Medicare, creating jobs by using Stimulus money, building infrastructure, etc. She did not run away from our President. To win, she had to win the support of Independents and she did. She will represent both Oregon and the US far better than Wu.

  • berttheclock on February 01, 2012 8:29 AM:

    In addition, Suzanne Bonamici kept the mantra of raising taxes on the wealthy alive.

    But, now, Newt will move to fighting the unions on the beaches, fight them on the fields, fight them....... Look for Newt to start puffing on a cigar while speaking and having a bull dog on a leash at his side.

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on February 01, 2012 8:46 AM:

    If you look at the results map over at TPM
    It is very revealing . The rural mugwump areas went very heavily for Newt almost flipping the numbers. The surrounding areas were very close breaking almost even.
    It's a shame its a winner take all .... go Newt go

  • Danp on February 01, 2012 8:49 AM:

    Florida is not representative of the Republican party. I predict Romney will have to continue to spend millions on attack ads, since he has zero constructive agenda and Newt does a better job of connecting with rural voters. Orville Redenbacher stock should continue to soar for a couple more months.

  • berttheclock on February 01, 2012 8:58 AM:

    Some credit must be given to Adelson for putting together a small fleet of vessels to successfully evacuate Newt from Dunkirk, er Florida.

    But, Danp has a very good point. The more money and time Mitt spends to try and destroy Newt, the better it will be for the President and the Democratic Party.

  • j on February 01, 2012 9:01 AM:

    Apparently with the big Romney win in Florida the very very rich are getting out the check books in their determination to get the black man out of the
    White House, I hope all of us are going to be energized
    to keep him in the White House and also give a little
    cash when we are able, I am retired but will certainly try to!

  • DAY on February 01, 2012 9:04 AM:

    After the movie is in the can, the publicity tour begins. Today. Good Morning America. The Daily Show.
    Second week, hit the small markets, saturate the media, and hope the critics take notice.
    Exhausted, time for a brief break; say, a vacation in the Greek Isles.
    Return home and realize there is an Oscar buzz!
    Back on the trail, this time to places where the Oscar voters live!
    Because, win or lose, there is a sequel to be made, and name recognition is everything at the box office!

    (For those still out of the loop, Newt is NOT running for president.)

  • Ron Byers on February 01, 2012 9:08 AM:

    Why does Romney want to be President anyway? Anybody know? Certainly he doesn't stand for anything. Seriously. What does Romney stand for.

  • berttheclock on February 01, 2012 9:15 AM:

    Because his daddy failed to become President.

  • T2 on February 01, 2012 9:17 AM:

    I reads somewhere that Newt Gingrich referred to "his sacred honor" in a speech last night. Man, he is a great example of a Republican. Seriously.

  • berttheclock on February 01, 2012 9:28 AM:

    Plus, Mitt "needs" another mansion.

  • MNRD on February 01, 2012 10:30 AM:

    Ed, I don't understand what your motivation is for calling Gingrich a "zombie candidate". Do you want to help Romney to wrap this thing up quickly? If so, why?

  • Karen Bidwell on February 01, 2012 11:00 AM:

    I imagine Newt's going forward, which he has vowed to do, will depend a great deal on the agenda of Sheldon Adelson. How much does Adelson want Obama out? Newt has little chance in winning the nomination (and I imagine Adelson is no dummy when it comes to this stuff) but he is the perfect foil to be sent out against Obama. The narrative has been set -- Newt will do anything to go after Romney and Adelson is willing to finance that. But don't be surprised if on the stump Newt continues to get wined and dined and flown around and is allowed to project his self-importance (his most cherished objectives) while using his brand of viscious attacks to undermine the president. Newt can carry the socialist Kenyan usurper trope around and remain relevant, all the while freeing up Romney to talk "policy" and confront Obama on that more "statesmanlike" front. Not a bad two-front attack plan and both Newt and Romney (Not to mention the guys in the back room who are running this show) are up to that kind of breathtakingly cynical hustle.


  • berttheclock on February 01, 2012 11:17 AM:

    Zombies never appear to disappear from movies quickly. Look for a great deal of union bashing in Vegas by This Walking Dead, plus saber rattling against Iran.

  • Col Bat Guano on February 01, 2012 5:48 PM:

    I want Gingrich to fight all the way to the convention. Every shot he takes at Romney just weakens him for the general election. Fire up the popcorn popper.