Huff Post- Posted: 02/ 1/2012 10:21 am By- Giancarlo Sopo
The Florida primary is in the history books and, as analysts predicted, Mitt Romney romped Newt Gingrich. While the Romney campaign should pat itself on the back for its double-digit victory, they should keep the champagne on ice for now. The polls show President Obama down in Florida, but he may have gotten the last laugh.
Here are four troubling signs for the GOP emerging from the Sunshine State’s primary:
1. Statewide GOP turnout is down from 2008
You would think that with a Republican Party whose “single most important political goal” is to make President Obama a one-term president, GOP voters would have flocked to the polls; however, they did not.
Compared to the 2008 primary, GOP turnout was down 14% on Tuesday. In 2008, 1,949,498 Republicans cast their ballot in the Florida primary; last night, the number was 1,672,702. Are there less registered Republicans now in Florida than there were in 2008? No, there are 25,000 more.
The cause for the drop in GOP turnout last night is unclear. The Republican base isn’t electrified by its front-runner candidate, but it would be foolish for Democrats to assume that means they won’t show up to vote in November because the one thing they are fired up about is defeating President Obama. However, as we saw in the 2000 Florida recount, elections are sometimes won on the slimmest of margins, and Washington Republicans are going to need all hands on deck if they want to defeat the president.
2. Romney’s favorability ratings are down and his negatives are up
Romney may have bombarded Gingrich with negative ads and outspent him 5:1 in Florida, but as the HuffPost Pollster chart below shows, it wasn’t just the former speaker’s image that took a dive as the GOP candidates toured the Sunshine State.