Is Mitt’s “Sunshine state” firewall collapsing?

Is Mitt’s “Sunshine state” firewall collapsing?

Newt takes 8% Florida lead in first post SC poll

After Saturday’s massive defeat for Mitt Romney in South Carolina all eyes are now on Florida where the primary takes place a week tomorrow.

The “Sunshine State” is on a different scale compared with the primaries so far with more delegates at stake than in all the three early states combined.

Things were looking good for Mitt there. He had built up an impressive ground organisation and he and the bodies supporting him have already more spent in excess of $7 million on TV ads, more than half of which has gone on negative attacks on Gingrich.

Florida was always going to be Mitt’s “firewall” should South Carolina not go right and until last night he looked pretty safe with an 18.5% lead in the Real Clear Politics polling average.

That’s now changed dramatically with the first post South Carolina poll in Florida there where all the fieldwork took place yesterday. Insider Advantage report that Newt is on 34% – eight clear of Mitt at 26% with Paul on 13% and Santorum at 11%

A complicating factor here is the high level of early voting in the state. Getting on for 200,000 votes have already been cast, most of them before the events in South Carolina began to dominate the news. That total represents about 10% of the number who voted in the GOP primary in 2008 which Mitt lost.

Tonight sees the first Florida debate and Romney will clearly be looking to perform better than he did in the two in South Carolina last week.

Mike Smithson @MikeSmithsonOGH

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