If the Newt surge persists over the next few months the biggest winner is going to be Barack Obama. We can see that pretty clearly in our newest Florida poll.
If Mitt Romney's the Republican nominee, Obama's in a lot of trouble in the Sunshine State. Obama leads Romney only 45-44, and given that the undecideds skew largely Republican he'd probably lose to Romney if the election was today. Obama being stuck in the mid-4os against Romney is par for the course in our Florida polling. In September Obama led 46-45, in June it was 47-43, and in March it was 46-44. The dial has barely moved all year.
But if Newt Gingrich is the Republican nominee it's a completely different story. Obama leads him 50-44 in a head to head. To find the last time a GOP Presidential candidate lost Florida by more than that you have to go all the way back to Thomas Dewey in 1948. Even Barry Goldwater did better in Florida than Gingrich is right now.
The Republicans are struggling with finding a nominee. Some have tried to compare this to the problems the Democrats had in 2008, but this is the total opposite. The Democratic Party had a problem picking a nominee because of huge enthusiasm for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The Republicans are having troubles because they are picking the lesser of two evils.
This also opens up a bigger issue that comes into play during an election cycle - the enthusiasm gap.
Look at Romney and Gingrich. There are a lot of contentious issues that separates right and left, things such as immigration and healthcare reform. Romney and Gingrich both have previously taken positions that are aligned with Barack Obama. Even worse is that there's evidence of this in video and documents. The Democrats can really use this to turn off that enthusiasm on the right. Have Barack Obama embracing these previous ideas of either candidate and a lot of people on the right will decide to stay home when faced with the decisions of four more years of Obama or a possible eight years of Obama light.
It's a new and radical idea in politics, but I feel it can really work. The right has a hatred of Obama, so he might as well use it to his advantage.