If Romney wins in Florida, he will likely sweep the month of February and have a clear path to the nomination. Mitt’s people have doubtless been using their influence at the state level to line up friendly states for February caucuses and primaries. Now, he is in a position to sweep the table if he wins in Florida.
After the Florida primary comes the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, February 4th — a heavily Mormon state that Mitt carried four years ago. On the same day, Maine will begin a week long process of caucuses. Romney should win this New England state easily. Then, one week after Florida, on Feb. 7, Colorado and Minnesota hold their caucuses. Romney won both states in 2008 and he will have a built-in advantage in any caucus state since he has had the money and organization for almost a year that Newt can only dream about.
Three weeks later, on Feb 28, Michigan and Arizona vote. Michigan was, of course, George Romney’s home state where he ably served as governor and Mitt carried it four years ago by a good margin, even after he had faltered in New Hampshire one week before. And Arizona has a large Mormon population and Romney should win there as well.
And, there is only one debate in February, so Newt will be without his forte – winning debates – to animate his cause.
So…if Newt wins in Florida, he can survive the Romney sweep in February and still win the nomination. But if he loses in Florida, he faces defeat after defeat throughout the month and it is hard to see how he could win.