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Thuman’s CAPITOL Thoughts returns!

Welcome back loyal TCT followers! The hiatus is over and with the campaign now in full swing, I’ll once again be providing those daily tidbits, analyses & inside-the-beltway insights you’d grown accustomed to.

Growing up in Florida there was one adage that often held true: if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.

Extract the word ‘weather’, insert ‘polls’ and you’d still be right as rain.
This fight over the Sunshine State is a roller coaster and adds an ironic consistency to the tumult and importance of the big F-L.
Consider the newest numbers from Suffolk University

Mitt: 47%
Gingrich: 27%
Santorum: 12% (not currently campaigning in FL)
Paul: 9% (not currently campaigning in FL)

What once was a double-digit lead for Newt has shown the unpredictability of a swing state so eager to play a role in this race that it jumped the gun on its primary date and risked the wrath of the RNC.

What do these figures prove? That Mitt Romney and his endless supply of Super PAC funds (which seem to multiply as quickly as Florida key limes would on my parents’ tree---BTW, few can make a key lime pie like Pat Thuman) are having a massive impact on people’s perception of the former speaker. Mitt is outspending his biggest foe 4 to 1 in advertising.

With that said, can Gingrich pull another surprise, a la South Carolina?

If he does, it’d be a moderate shocker though within the realm of possibility. He has rebounded in energy and rhetoric since the Jacksonville debate that had him on his heels most of the night. He’s gone from calling Romney the “Massachusetts moderate” to plain old “liberal” now. He’s got Herman Cain in his corner (for what that’s worth) and has Mamma Grizzly growling lines on Fox News like: “Annoy a liberal, vote Newt!”

All are efforts that Mitt Romney has described as “sad”.

Ouch!

This has become the kind of slugfest Floridians typically only see during UF-FSU matchups. And while former RNC Chairman Michael Steele told me, “Overall, I think it’s time for these two to stop the playground antics. The nasty back and forth is a real turn-off”, don’t expect anyone to start strumming Kumbaya at the next campaign event.

What’s this all mean? I’d like to say all my years of covering politics there would allow me to take the substantial evidence that Mitt’s in the driver’s seat and be able to predict an outcome. But you may recall a little electoral snag called “The Florida Recount of 2000” where we learned more than we ever cared to about hanging chads and I found that 37 days in Tallahassee can force you to be awfully creative with only 3 days of clothing on hand.

So when you’re ready to prognosticate on who’ll be adding 50 delegates to their electoral treasure chest, remember these factors:
-By 4pm Monday already 293,000 Floridians had ‘early voted’
-338,000 absentee ballots have already been returned
-Florida has 2 time zones (so voting in the Western panhandle can often be affected by early exit polling in the rest of the state
And…
-just 537 votes separated Bush vs. Gore.

Oh yeah, and just for good measure… all candidates say they’re in this thing for the long haul.

So buckle up. In Florida-speak: the path to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is as wobbly as that of a Category 3 Hurricane headed toward South Beach that too often ends up in Cancun.

Don’t like it? Just wait a bit.

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