Matt Towery

Don't get me wrong, I thought Mitt Romney himself gave the speech of his life in Tampa, Fla. But it was not enough to ignite a Republican electorate that never saw at a decent hour Herman Cain (duh, an African-American conservative who can wow crowds), or Newt Gingrich (alone, and as the firebrand he can be) or Donald Trump, who could have electrified the crowd without talking to an empty chair.

Ohio, I am told by my polling friends, will be difficult if not impossible for Romney to carry. So the Ryan choice will have to be a national one, one that lets him serve as the tough conservative attack dog he can so easily be. Virginia is a possibility for Romney, and my guess is that North Carolina, despite the convention's presence, will go Republican.

But no one wins the presidency without Florida. And the polls show that even following the GOP convention, the state is dead even or with a slight Obama lead. I won't really feel comfortable about who is leading the race until our firm polls it in late October.

In the meantime, I can certainly tell the Romney camp that they had better remind Floridians just how bad things have been and are under President Obama. Florida is still lagging behind most other states in its economic recovery. But if you don't hammer that fact home and put it at Obama's doorstep, a rival candidate gains no ground. Florida is about voter turnout and a narrow strip of independent voters found primarily in a line from Tampa-St. Pete, through Orlando and to the east coast.

I certainly would like to tell my readers both nationally and on the First Coast that Romney can get the stick out of his rear end and his people can get their noses out of the air long enough to win Florida. But as Jeb Bush's mother once famously said about another race, "I've seen this movie before, and I don't like the ending."

Romney better get tough and let Marco and Jeb bring Florida home for him, or he will be joining Bob Dole and John McCain in the too-stiff-to-win club.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery