Tonight is the 10,000th GOP primary debate, the last one in the sunshine state taking place before the big primary next week. Well it now appears that the presumptive winner, New Gingrich, who was supposedly going to ride a wave of momentum from South Carolina all the way down to South Florida, is going out with the tide.
The latest Rasmussen Poll shows Mitt Romney to have taken a strong lead over the former speaker 39% to 31%. The poll is rounded out with Santorum and Paul at 12% and 9% respectively. It is possible that the debate from last week helped to bring this change on. Newt was not at his best since he was not allowed to provoke the crowd, and it was the second most watched debate in the entire cycle thus far. Prior to that debate, Newt was leading Romney 41% to 32%, so the swing is rather significant. While Newt continues to parade around as though he is the second coming of Reagan, his lead continues to shrink to levels that would never be worthy of such a title.
Tonight’s debate could be a make or break for both of these candidates. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that either Newt or Mitt will come out of Florida the winner, there is no danger of Santorum or Paul catching enough wind to sail to the top. But because Florida is a winner take all state, the next 5 days will be significant, and the momentum needed to win will be sparked tonight.
Be sure to follow our usual Twitter coverage of the GOP debate, and be thankful, as we here at Save Jersey are, that this is the last debate until February 22nd. That month off really begs the question though, how will Newt survive to the next primary state without a seven million viewer audience to hear his one-liners?