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« Daily Digest for Monday, 1/23 | Main | InsiderAdvantage poll: Gingrich leads Romney 34-26 in Florida. But PPP could find closer race »

With 225k ballots cast, Newt Gingrich could still torch Mitt Romney's early-vote 'firewall'

We've repeatedly noted that only Mitt Romney has been waging a full-fledged ground- and air-war campaign in Florida to bank early and absentee votes. But it's not enough to ensure victory Jan. 31 now that Gingrich is surging. Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant, did a little analysis and said the following:

Following the Gingrich surge in South Carolina, much has been written/blogged/tweeted about the Romney Florida advantage in organization, and specifically the advantage they may have in absentee ballots cast to date here in Florida.

According to the state GOP, roughly 225,000 ballots have been cast (192K ABS, 34K EV).  If turnout matches 2008 levels (1.95m votes), this means that only 11.5% of likely Florida GOP voters have cast a ballot.  If you give the Romney folks the benefit of the doubt and say that he has received 50% of all votes cast so far, and assume that Gingrich has received only 25% of the ballots so far, this would give Romney a 56,000 vote lead.  At this, probably best case scenario for Romney, Gingrich would need to win the remaining voters by 3.5% to win.  Lower turnout from this point forward probably helps Romney, while higher turnout would decrease the margin Gingrich needs going forward.

In other words, if Newtmentum continues into Florida, the Romney absentee advantage to date is hardly a firewall.  It is also worth noting that 280,000 voters who requested absentee ballots are still hanging on to them.

Veteran Republican consultant David "DJ" Johnson, however, noted that the turnout model for this race should resemble the gubernatorial 2010 race, in part because the 2008 early primary brought out more voters because of a property-tax cut on the ballot.