He has opened up a bigger lead, 36% to Romney’s 31%. The networks have called it. And this is good news for McCain because maybe he can’t claim a resounding victory, but whenever you defeat your opponent by 5% it’s certainly not a tie.
Returns from 64 percent of the state’s precincts showed McCain, the Arizona senator, with 36 percent of the vote and Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, with 31 percent.
McCain’s victory was his first-ever primary win in a state that allowed only Republicans to vote. His previous victories, in New Hampshire and South Carolina this year, and in two states in 2000 came in elections open to independents. He campaigned with the support of the state’s two top Republican elected officials, Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez.
Romney’s only primary win so far was in Michigan, a state where he grew up and claimed a home-field advantage. He also has caucus victories to his credit in Wyoming and Nevada.
A survey of voters as they left their polling places showed the economy was the top issue for nearly half the Republican electorate. McCain led his rival among those voters, blunting Romney’s weeklong effort to persuade Floridians that his background as a businessman made him best-suited for heading off a recession.
Oh, and expect Giuliani to drop out soon and endorse McCain. No surprise there. Huckabee should drop out as well, but that’s up in the air.
Last note…even though Ron Paul got 3% of the vote tonight he’ll keep going in hopes that somehow he can collect enough stray delegates to, umm, well I’m not quite sure what he wants to do. But whatever it is, good luck with that Ron!
I’m stupid. This contest is a winner-take-all, so tonight is quite a big win for McCain because he gets 57 delegates.
Again, my apologies for not knowing this beforehand.