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Romney Leads Gingrich In Florida GOP Primary

Tracy Bloom |
January 31, 2012 | 10:52 a.m. PST

Deputy Editor

Voting is still underway in Florida, but early results already show Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney opening up a big lead over rival Newt Gingrich in the Sunshine State. According to The Daily Beast, more than 632,000 Florida voters cast their ballots early, and Gingrich was already trailing Romney by 60,000 votes before the polls even opened. 

The early results should come as no surprise, as Romney was already heavily favored to win in Florida. The latest polls already show Romney heading towards a big victory, with a Real Clear Politics average of polls showing Romney with a 13-point lead over his Republican challengers.

Florida is perhaps the most critical of the early voting states. At stake in Tuesday's nominating contest is 50 delegates - the most of any of the primaries so far this election season. Still, the figure represents roughly half of how many delegates Florida would have had - 99 - if the state had held it's primary later in the season. Moreover, despite the fact that it is billed as "winner-take-all," there is still the slight - though highly unlikely - chance delegates could be proportioned out to each candidate based on the number of votes.

The Tampa Bay Times reported: "The question boils down to this: Did the RNC properly allow the Republican Party of Florida to decree its primary a winner-take-all contest for Florida delegates? Or should Florida's 50 delegates in fact be divvied up proportionally by each candidate's share of the primary vote?"

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele argued that Florida's delegates should be allocated on a proportional basis. "The rule is absolutely clear — it should be proportional,'' he said.

As of now, all 50 delegates will go to whichever candidate has the most votes.

Polls in Florida are scheduled to close at 7 p.m. local time, meaning the networks will not call the campaign until 8 p.m. ET, after voting is over in the panhandle (which is in the Central Time Zone).



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