(Starting the morning of 1/31/12, this post will be bumped to the top for the full day)Updates throughout the day will be added to the bottom of the post.
[Update- RACE CALLED] Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul, respectively. More on the exact totals tomorrow.
Once again we will be joining with Right Pundits, with live blogging and discussion as we watch entrance and exit polls and keep track of the results of the Tuesday, January 31, 2012 GOP Florida primaries. The polls in Florida open at 7am ET and close at 7pm EST.
Eligibility: Only registered Republicans may participate in the Florida primary. Florida has 99 delegates but the Republican party has previous announced only half will count, as was the case in South Carolina, due to the states moving up their primary schedule and holding them before February 2012.
[Update- 1/31/12] Heading into the morning of the Florida primary, between submitted absentee ballots and early voting, over 600,000 votes have already been cast and Mitt Romney holds the lead over Newt Gingrich by 51% to 33%, according to CNN.
[Update- 1/31/12] While polling, except outliers, has Romney ahead of Gingrich, the Florida Tea Party Patriots conducted a straw poll which put Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum way ahead of Mitt Romney and Ron Paul.
Question: If the election were held today, who would you vote for?
Newt Gingrich 35%
Rick Santorum 31%
Mitt Romney 18%
Ron Paul 11%
Undecided/None of the Above 5%
(Results are rounded to nearest percentage point.)When asked about enthusiasm, both Gingrich and Santorum received 35% saying they would be extremely enthusiastic about a Gingrich or Santorum nomination. Romney came in at 21% and Paul at 11%. (H/T DC)
[Update- 1/31/12] Via ABC News, Jonathan Karl asked Newt Gingrich how much longer he thought the battle for the Republican nomination would go on and Gingrich said six to eight more months "unless Romney drops out earlier."
When I asked what he says to those who say the race will effectively be over if he loses big in Florida, Gingrich said, “You mean those who said I was dead in June? Those who said I was dead in December? They are about as accurate as they were the last two times they were wrong.”
[Update- 1/13/12] Analysis from Campaign Media Analysis Group shows that the Florida primary has seen "the most negative campaign ever," with 92% of the ads airing in Florida over the past week listed as negative.
Newt Gingrich's campaign ran 1,012 spots, 95% were negative. Mitt Romney's campaign ran 3,276 ads and 99% were negative.
[Update- 1/31/12] CBS News reports on early exit poll data show 2/3 said the debates mattered and 37 percent said Mitt Romney said Mitt Romney ran the most unfair campaign with 34 percent pointing to Newt Gingrich.
27 percent said they decided on which candidate to vote for in the last few days and 42 percent said they decided before that.
Half the early voters backed Romeny. The economy was cited by 62 percent as the most important issue. Federal budget deficit was cited by 24 percent.
57 percent were happy with the candidates on the ballot and 39 percent were not.
NEXT state the candidates will be heading to will be February 4, 2012, the Nevada caucuses.
Full GOP primary/caucus schedule HERE.