This may seem insignificant, but intraparty politics is big and mean business. If those who have been in control lose out, their potential to have serious political power as elected officials, lobbyists and political operatives suffers a blow. And for some, that's a blow to their wallets.
Regardless of the outcome, it is hard to imagine that the winner of the GOP race in Florida won't emerge as the nominee. If McCain wins, he will have momentum to go along with a more moderate record. Both will appeal to Republican voters in California, where he has a lead in the polls among the GOP field that averages 8 percent, according to RealClearPolitics.
Should Romney win, the McCain train will have been slowed down. More specifically, his money flow will slow, too. Even now, with McCain faring as well as any GOP candidate, it's proving hard for him to collect cash. If he loses in Florida, he will run out of gas, and Romney will start piling up delegates.
Is there hope for Rudy Giuliani? Recall that his entire strategy was based on winning in Florida and then springboarding off of that.
No one really knows the answer. But for all the attacks on the validity of polls following the New Hampshire primaries, the fact remains that most of us in the polling business have been close to on-target in these races.
It would surprise me if Giuliani were to climb his way back up. I offer that assessment with this caveat, however: Floridians love their debates, and I write just hours before just such an event. Remember, the CNN/YouTube contest made Mike Huckabee a front-runner, at least for a while. It's possible it could do the same for Giuliani.
One final thought. If the Florida Republican primary ends up as close as it appears, keep in mind that any top two candidates within half a percentage point of each other means an automatic voter recount!
No, there won't be any "hanging chads" Tuesday night. Florida has had more than one round of election reform to prevent that catastrophe from repeating.
Still, it would be poetic justice for a vote-counting controversy to divide the Republican Party just eight years after George Bush became president after exactly that.
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