Despite Newt Gingrich's rapidly deflating Florida poll numbers that suggest the former Speaker of the House is headed for a decisive defeat in Tuesday's Republican presidential primary, he shows no signs of giving up the fight.
Gingrich's Florida numbers soared after he won a resounding victory in South Carolina, raising the prospect of a protracted state-by-state nominating battle. Although that bump has evaporated in recent days, Gingrich has signaled that he is committed to keeping his campaign going.
The bottom line: Regardless of the message the Romney campaign wants to push and the media wants to deliver, this race is just getting started, Gingrich's national political director, Martin Baker, said in a memo to reporters carried by Bloomberg News. Baker added that many future primaries award candidates proportionally, which means Gingrich can pile up delegates even if he doesn't win states outright.
The shortage of 'winner take all' contests ensures that no single race will either clinch the nomination for a candidate or knock a candidate out of the race, Baker wrote.
Romney: Gingrich Already Lowering Expectations in Florida
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Gingrich rival, told reporters everybody has a right to stay in as long as they think they can get the delegates they need but sounded confident about his chances, saying Gingrich's vow to go on no matter what happens was likely an indication that he was anticipating a loss.
By traditional measures, a big Florida win for Romney would mean that this thing is just about wrapped up, Todd Harris, a Washington-based Republican strategist, told the Associated Press. Most Republicans think it's time to stop the infighting and start taking the campaign straight to President Obama.
But in referencing traditional measures, Harris neglected to mention how the 2010 Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court has upended the normal dynamics of presidential races. That decision allows political action committees known as super PACs to spend unlimited amounts of money on advertisements. A torrent of super PAC spending has already shaped the 2012 presidential election by helping to delay Romney's quest to secure the nomination.
Wyoming billionaire Foster Friess has helped to sustain former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's sputtering campaign by funneling a substantial amount of money into the pro-Santorum super PAC known as the Red, White & Blue Fund and he has promised more. Similarly, Las Vegas Sands casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam have donated a combined $10 million to the pro-Gingrich Super PAC Restore Our Future. Given Adelson's longstanding ties to Gingrich, it's conceivable that more cash is forthcoming.
Romney appears better equipped to execute a national campaign, having out-fundraised his opponents and put staff in states that include Nevada, Colorado and Arizona. Republican strategist Phil Musser told the Associated Press that Romney has vastly superior resources across the board, but he added that the race remains unpredictable.
If we've learned anything from this cycle, Musser said, it's that there aren't many crystal balls that are clear.