Mitt Romney has won the Florida primary, but Newt Gingrich finished second and continues to enjoy support among certain groups of voters. While Gingrich has lost Florida, he will have more favorable contests after February. But will the former speaker of the House leave the race before then?
While campaigning in Florida last week, Gingrich was asked if he intended to continue his campaign past Florida. The former speaker briefly paused, pursed his lip, and said, “I intend to take my campaign to the convention." So as Romney gathers more momentum after drubbing his three other GOP rivals, where does Gingrich go from here?
The primary schedule for February appears to be a Romney buffet, with handpicked states the former governor will be favored to win, including Nevada Michigan. With this schedule, the Gingrich campaign can only look to March as its next major chance to challenge Romney. In March there are contests in states friendly to Newt, including Georgia and Mississippi.
But to compound Gingrich’s woes, there is only one debate scheduled for the month of February. Although Romney had good debate performances in Florida, Gingrich has performed well in a majority of the Republican presidential debates. Gingrich can't bank on these debates to propel him through the month of February.
Rick Santorum could potentially help Gingrich. The viability of Santorum's campaign remains an unanswered question. If Santorum were to exit, it is possible his supporters would fall in line behind Gingrich. As such, do not expect Gingrich to take a bow until he is able to face Romney without Santorum taking 15% of the GOP vote.
Still, while it is fun for the media to speculate whether Republicans will be united after the primaries, there is no doubt that Newt, no matter if he continues to fight through the GOP race, will support Romney should the former governor win the nomination.