5 lessons the Florida primary taught us
There wasn’t much drama in the Florida Republican primary on Tuesday night. Former Massachusetts governor
Mitt Romney pulled away to a convincing enough victory that the race was called for him within moments of polls closing.
But, that dearth of drama doesn’t mean that there weren’t lessons learned from Tuesday’s vote in the Sunshine State that can be carried forward as the race moves to Nevada and beyond.
After sorting through the exit polling, listening to the candidates’ speeches and sifting through the county-by-county results, we came up with five major lessons learned. (And, yes, we always learn lessons in fives. Doesn’t everyone?)
Here they are:
1. Negative ads work: Ninety-two percent of all the television ads run in the Florida Republican presidential primary were negative, according to an analysis by Elizabeth Wilner of the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG).
Romney and his team decided after his South Carolina loss that they were going to release the hounds and they did just that in Florida, dropping a barrage of negative ads ($15 million and counting ) that cast Gingrich as an ethically challenged and unreliable candidate.
While Gingrich decried the onslaught and tried to make it the issue in the race, voters didn’t perceive Romney as overly negative. Thirty four percent said Romney had run an unfair campaign while an equal 34 percent said the same of Gingrich, according to exit polling.
The lesson in Florida is the same lesson we learn in race after race (after race): Voters say they don’t like negative ads but the messages those negative commercials carry often heavily influence the voting choices they make.
And that means that there are plenty more negative commercials to come as the race moves to Nevada, Colorado, Maine, Arizona and Michigan.
2. Romney can win Republicans: After his crushing defeat in South Carolina, questions were — rightly
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