It's not that voters in the Sunshine State are smarter. It really isn't that they are more moderate or conservative than the GOP as a whole. Rather, it's the simple fact that a candidate who can win Florida is a candidate who proves that he or she can handle a large number of big media markets, raise the necessary funds to stage a first-class candidacy, and can turn voters out in large numbers.
Rather than forcing strong candidates to battle for what amounts to a relatively small number of delegates in the grand scheme of things, wasting resources and time in the process, why should Republicans not start with a contest that is more reflective of the national election they will face should they win the nomination?
Some might say that the same result occurs regardless. And yes, Mitt Romney may well have emerged with a huge collection of Florida delegates to fuel victories in a more diverse and delegate rich "Super Tuesday" contest to follow, had Florida been the first state in the 2012 GOP contest.
If so, Romney would likely have won without the depletion of resources and goodwill created by the archaic system now in place.
Some candidates from 2012 who could never have competed in a Florida-first scenario would have never gotten past square one. And others might have marshaled their resources and time more effectively and perhaps could have performed better.
National press and pundits can build up or tear down candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire, but in Florida every section of the state is a "nation" unto itself. The GOP needs a true "game change," and "Florida first" in 2016 can provide it.
Matt Towery heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage. Follow him on Twitter @matttowery. To find out more about Matt Towery and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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