Natl Journal Insiders Poll: Fla is most important primary state
National Journal (from whom we
stole the idea
paid homage to in starting the Florida Insider's poll): Move over, Iowa. Make room, New Hampshire. Florida could be the new presidential kingmaker, according to the results of this week's National Journal Political Insiders Poll. Strategists and advisers from both parties said the Sunshine State will be more important than Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina in determining the 2012 Republican nominee for president.
With Republicans in Florida hinting that they intend to move their primary date to January 31, a step that could set off a wave of primary calendar scrambling, Insiders expect the state to assume a new position of prominence in the nominating process.
"If Florida does go early," said a Republican Insider, "it will eclipse South Carolina, while Iowa becomes increasingly irrelevant."
"The Florida winner will be nominated," said another. "Romney gets to Florida through New Hampshire, Perry through either South Carolina or Iowa."
A Democratic Insider agreed, saying, "Iowa usually eliminates someone; New Hampshire and South Carolina winnow; but Florida is the new 'decider.'"
The calendar aside, many Insiders pointed to Florida's size and diverse electorate as factors making it a newly critical proving ground for the presidential candidates.
"Any campaign can drum up enough resources to play somewhat in smaller states, but it takes a real budget to play in Florida and nationally," said one Republican Insider. "This is where Romney, Perry, and Huntsman will or will not demonstrate their national ability - and all the others will be forced to watch from the sidelines because they don't have the money to play."