Florida: The 'decider' state

The Republican campaign may drag on, but the GOP winner has already been decided.

    Due to his major spending and a likely Florida win, Mitt Romney will most probably take the nomination [GALLO/GETTY]

    New York, NY - "I'm the decider," former President George W Bush once told CNN.

    But when it comes to presidential politics, it's the state of Florida that is the real decider, as the infamous "hanging chads" and, later, the US Supreme Court, eventually made clear to the world after the United States' long, drawn-out and otherwise indecisive 2000 election. 

    Four years later, Florida again played a decisive role in re-electing Bush in the face of a determined challenge from Democratic candidate John Kerry. And Barack Obama would never have become the US' first black president without narrowly carrying the state in his race against Republican John McCain.

    Now Florida is once again about to play a determining role in this year's US presidential race.

    Just a week ago, in the wake of a nearly 15 percentage point loss to rival Newt Gingrich in South Carolina, Mitt Romney's triumph was still in doubt. But a strong performance in the final pre-primary debate, coupled with his best-in-show campaign organisation, massive financial advantage, and the vocal support of nearly the entire establishment of the Republican Party, have combined to make Florida the place where the Romney forces will succeed in stopping Gingrich once and for all. Although the Republican race will slog on for several more weeks - perhaps even months - it will really be won by Mitt Romney this week in Florida.

    Analysts like to credit Romney's rise with his shift to "offence against Newt", as Austin Barbour, a national finance chairman, put it. While it's true that Romney was more "offensive" during the last debate than previously, a bigger reason for his comeback is the highly offensive, multi-million dollar negative advertising blitz that his campaign and the well-financed, pro-Romney, but supposedly unrelated "Super PAC" groups are raining down on Gingrich. The coordinated combination of attacks by Romney, his campaign surrogates and the Super PACs supporting him have put Gingrich on the defensive and are simply too much for him to counter.

     Republicans' 'attack ads' in Florida race

    The ferocious advertising war fought through the airwaves has been coupled with venomous attacks from conservative commentators and Republican leaders alike, who fear that a Gingrich candidacy would be a complete debacle for their party. 1996 presidential nominee Bob Dole, for example, wrote an open letter declaring: "It is now time to take a stand before it is too late," and concluding that a Gingrich nomination would mean "a sweeping victory by Obama". 

    Gingrich himself has noted: "The Republican establishment is just as much an establishment as the Democratic establishment, and they are just as determined to stop us." He is right - and the combined assault against him by Republican elders, the conservative chattering class, and the "smart money" forces has turned the electoral tide inevitably in favour of Romney. Going forward, Romney is now much better positioned than Gingrich, who simply cannot compete with Romney's overwhelming monetary, organisational and party advantages.

    The mainstream media won't tell you, so remember - you read it here first. The votes may not have been counted yet, but the reality is that the race for the Republican nomination is over: It's Mitt. And Florida, once again, is "the decider".

    Author, blogger, filmmaker and journalist Rory O'Connor is co-founder and president of the international media firm Globalvision Inc, and Board Chair of The Global Centre, an affiliated non-profit foundation. O'Connor has directed, written and/or produced hundreds of television programmes and films, and served as executive in charge of two award-winning broadcast news magazines,South Africa Now and Rights & Wrongs: Human Rights Television.

    His articles have appeared in many leading periodicals, he is the author of three books, and he also regularly posts on his popular "Media Is A Plural" blog as well as on such leading websites as the Huffington Post and AlterNet.

    Follow him on Twitter:@rocglobal

    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.