Whether it’s 5, 7, 11 or 14 percentage points, all the major polls agree: Newt Gingrich should lose Election Day in Florida.
But Florida doesn’t have just one Election Day. It has a month’s worth of them because voters can cast absentee ballots by mail or go to special early-voting precincts for a 10-day stretch that ended Saturday.
At least 632,000 Republicans have already cast ballots.
So Gingrich could be losing by as many as 60,000 votes before the polls even open Tuesday, according to an analysis of early-voter surveys and the averages of all the major statewide polls applied to the pool of already cast ballots.
“I think Gingrich could be losing more to Mitt Romney — like 75,000ish,” said Randy Nielsen, a top Florida political consultant for the Republican Party of Florida who’s not affiliated with any presidential candidate.
“This election isn’t going to be pretty for Newt Gingrich,” Nielsen said. “He didn’t have a program to get early and absentee votes, and Gingrich is losing to Mitt Romney in every region except for North Florida. But he’s not winning there enough to make up the difference.”
The actual number of early ballots won by the candidates won't become known until after Election Day.
And Gingrich could be doing much better if his campaign somehow managed to get voters to flock to early-voting precincts and cast absentee ballots in numbers that well exceed the average estimates of nearly 30 scientific surveys that have a 4 percent error margin. Factor that in, and Gingrich could trail Romney by about 42,000 votes.
When absentee-ballot voting began at the beginning of the year, only Romney aggressively courted early voters. For more than a month, his campaign has called and mailed voters and reached them on Spanish- and English-language television and radio.
Gingrich was late in contacting voters, advertising in Florida and campaigning here, relative to Romney.
Still, the advertising has been so heavy on Miami’s Spanish-language airwaves that a WQBA-AM (1140) host apologized to readers that some shows had been cut short to accommodate all the political spots. Up to 2 million Republicans could vote in this election.