The polls just closed in Florida and the media is already projecting that Mitt Romney will be the winner. This comes as no surprise today as the polls showed Romney with a lead, but immediately after the South Carolina primary this outcome was briefly in doubt. Since then Republican leaders have gone nuclear against Gingrich and Romney benefited from better debate performances.
Florida has violated the Republican Party rule that winner take all contests cannot occur until April, and Romney will take all fifty delegates, pending the inevitable challenge should Gingrich remain competitive. Gingrich does say he will remain in the race until the end, and he appears angry enough with Romney to possibly do so.
It now appears increasingly unlikely that Romney can be stopped despite the opposition of many conservatives. There just is not a viable candidate in the race to oppose him. It is too late for another candidate to enter the race and win as many filing deadlines have passed, but theoretically another candidate could enter and pick up enough delegates to keep anyone from winning a majority, leaving the decision to the convention. It is difficult, but not impossible, to envision scenarios which could still deny Romney the honor of losing to Barack Obama this fall.
Romney leading but having Gingrich remain in the race might be the best possible outcome following the Florida primary. As it is theoretically possible for the nominee of any major political party to wind up winning, we certainly do not want Gingrich to be the nominee. Gingrich is welcome to spend the next several months exposing all of Romney’s faults and continue to damage his image.