The FL Republican primary was do or die for Rudy Giuliani (NY). For weeks, pundits waited with bated breath to see whether Rudy would "do," like John McCain (AZ) in NH or "die," like Fred Thompson (TN) in SC.
Well, the votes are in and Rudy's out. McCain got 36 percent of the vote; Mitt Romney (MA), 31 percent; and Rudy got just 15 percent. McCain can lay claim to the state's 57 delegates, and has the wind at his back going into Super Duper Tuesday when 21 states hold primaries and caucuses.
Like Thompson, Rudy got to the dance too late. The voters had already paired up with candidates. No doubt poli-sci majors will be studying the tactical errors by these two campaigns for years to come.
Rudy's concession speech wasn't rah-rah as much as reflective, and he spoke of his campaign in the past tense. Rudy is expected to throw his support to McCain.
Here's the breakdown of the vote, according to early exit polling:
Hispanics (Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Mexicans) comprise the largest minority group in FL 10 percent of the total vote - and one out of two of them went for McCain. Rudy picked up 26 percent of these votes, with Romney trailing at 16 percent.
McCain also did well amongst voters over the age of 60 (40 percent vs. Romney's 31 percent and Rudy's 18 percent), and edged out Romney amongst those who cited the economy as their top concern (38 percent vs. 34 percent).
For his part, Romney won over those who based their votes on illegal immigration (45 percent to McCain's 22 percent) and split the military veteran's vote with McCain (36 percent to 37 percent).
As he has in the past, McCain won the votes of registered Republicans who self-identify as "independents" (37 percent vs. 21 percent for Romney) and moderates, but Romney bested him amongst conservatives (40 percent vs. 27 percent). More than 60 percent of Republican voters in FL say they are conservative; just 20 percent describe themselves as independents.
Mike Huckabee (AR) garnered single digits across nearly all demographic groups of voters but as he came in at a very a close fourth place finish (13 percent), his campaign's spin is that he really came in third when you consider how much time and money Rudy had invested in the state.
There was considerably less drama for Democrat voters in FL. Hillary Clinton (NY)
There was considerably less drama for Democrat voters in FL. Hillary Clinton (NY)won the primary, and gets bragging rights ("I am thrilled to have had this vote of confidence that you have given me today") but no convention delegates because the national committee stripped the state of its delegates as punishment for moving up the date of the primary election from February 5th. To underscore that point, just after CNN called the race for Hillary, Obama's campaign put out a statement: "Breaking... Obama and Clinton tie for delegates in Florida. 0 for Obama, 0 for Clinton."
Hillary got 50 percent of the vote, Barack Obama (IL) got 33 percent and John Edwards (NC) just 14 percent. It's debatable how predictive the vote breakdown is for the contests to come on Super Duper Tuesday, since the candidates did not campaign in the state except for a few ads for Obama running on cable channels and several fund-raisers attended by Hillary.