"And with another day we get another fresh round of polling showing one of two things: either the good citizens of Florida are prone to fits of multiple personality disorder or the pollsters are just having some fun with us."--- Jazz Shaw, Hot Air
It has been one week since Newt Gingrich came from being double digits in polling behind Mitt Romney and handily won the South Carolina primary with a 12 percentage point lead.
Then the candidates all went to Florida. Poor Florida has been subject to media hell, polling hell and campaign ad hell. Polling in Florida, has swung from one direction to another on the turn of a dime.
For example, heading to Florida from South Carolina, Mitt Romney was way ahead in the polls. Just days later, Newt Gingrich was in the lead, then the polls swung back to Romney and yesterday the local pollster Dixie Strategies/First Coast News released their findings, and has the GOP presidential race in Florida at a dead heat between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, with Rick Santorum and Ron Paul coming in third and fourth, respectively.
When asked, "If the Republican Presidential Primary were held today, for whom would you vote?," 35.46 percent of the 2,567 likely voters polled selected former House speaker Gingrich, and 35.08 percent selected Romney.
The same question showed former senator Rick Santorum in a distant third place with 9.38 percent, followed by Ron Paul's 7.42 percent.
The full Dixie Strategies/First Coast News opinion survey can be found HERE.
Let's take a look at what is happening in Florida, via campaign ads: (Source ABC News)
Pro-Romney forces are using the vast majority of the $13.9 million they’ve spent to buy up television airtime on broadcast stations in the Miami, Tampa and Orlando areas – population centers that will be critical to the former Massachusetts governor’s hopes of winning the state.
Gingrich is following a similar pattern, and Winning Our Future is also spending more than $1 million on radio ads. Cumulatively his campaign and the super PAC supporting him has purchased roughly $3.8 million of television and radio time.
Winning Our Future pledged $6 million would be spent in Florida leading up to Primary day Tuesday, January 31, 2012.
With quadruple the amount of money spent to date, on primarily negative ads in Florida against Gingrich, one would think that Romney's lead would be steady, not the back and forth we have seen and Romney's ads started in Florida before the candidates even left South Carolina.
Yet the candidates, according the local polling, are statistically tied.
That is because something else has been in play. With Gingrich ahead nationally, according to Gallup, by eight points and Gallup stating "with no sign in Gallup Daily tracking from Jan. 22-26 that Gingrich is giving back any of his recent gains," the Republican establishment and the conservative media elite, who thought the "Romney is inevitable" meme was a foregone conclusion, decided to jump in and attempt to influence voters by throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Gingrich.
"What we saw with this ridiculous opposition dump on Newt was nothing short of Stalin-esque rewriting of history. It was Alinsky tactics at their worst."---- Sarah Palin, via Facebook
Having been born in Florida and living in Miami for the majority of 30 plus years before leaving the state, let me tell you a secret about Floridians.
Floridians like a good fight, they don't even mind if candidates roll around in the mud battling it out, but they don't like to be pushed, shoved or have anything rammed down their throat.
You can nudge them to attempt to alter their trajectory, but you push them, they are as likely to push you back as they are to bitch-slap you into the next county.
Pollsters be damned, the only pattern seen over the last two weeks has been a pendulum swinging back and forth and depending on which candidate's side that pendulum is favoring on the day of the primaries, that will be the candidate that takes Florida.
If Mitt Romney wins Florida, it will not be because of the Republican establishment or the conservative side of the elite media's interference, it will be despite it.