Despite one last-minute outlier poll (HERE) suggesting that Newt Gingrich still has a chance to win Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in Florida, Mitt Romney is expected to come away from the Sunshine State with a convincing victory.
The conventional political wisdom is that Romney thereby will have regained his status as the presumptive GOP nominee, and Newt will have been doomed to also-ran distinction. But even if that turns out to be the case, don’t expect Gingrich to concede the point just yet. He’s not likely to bow out without extracting another pound or two or five of flesh from Romney and the Republican establishment.
Nor is Newt’s pledge to fight on merely the kind of false bravado politicians always display just before conceding the inevitable. This guy is NUTTY ENOUGH to mean it:
Pledges to continue the fight unabated in the face of harsh and/or humiliating outcomes are staples of presidential campaigns. And they are also patently meaningless…But in Gingrich’s case, he might be serious, so much has he come to despise Romney and the Republican Establishment that has brought down on him a twenty-ton shithammer in Florida, and so convinced is he of his own Churchillian greatness and world-historical destiny. The same antic, manic, lunatic bloody-mindedness that has made him such a rotten candidate in the Sunshine State may be enough to keep him the race a good long time.
Waging a protracted battle would likely be an act of futility for Gingrich, but it could turn out to be something much worse for Romney.
And there’s a method to Newt’s madness, an actual ELECTORAL STRATEGY:
Gingrich is making the case that Romney can’t get a majority at the convention, his small circle of advisers are already eyeing favorable states in March and April, and those close to the former back-bench bomb thrower are testifying to his legendary perseverance.
Florida may well be a painful body blow, but Gingrich appears deadly serious about a long, bloody march all the way to Tampa — a scenario that is giving the GOP establishment nightmares.
And the new rules in which states will distribute their delegates proportionally instead of by winner-take-all rules means that Gingrich can keep accruing a sizable number of delegates even if Romney is besting him.
Further, Gingrich and his team see a wall of opposition among the party’s conservative activists to Romney and the stirrings of the same movement that upended the GOP establishment in the 2010 election.