MELBOURNE, Florida -- Republican Presidential Primary candidate Newt Gingrich has erased Mitt Romney's prior double digit lead in Florida and now leads Romney by 34% to 26% according to an Insider Advantage Poll conducted on January 22, 2012. Ron Paul rose to third place at 13% while Rick Santorum dropped to 11%.
As predicted by BrevardTimes.com on Saturday, the South Carolina win was a game changer for the GOP Primary in Florida because it appears from polling data that Florida Republican voters favor the perceived front runner after each of the other states' primary elections.
The next question is whether Romney can stop his slide or Gingrich continue his ride after the Florida NBC Republican Presidential Primary Debate Tonight.
Although Ron Paul is not actively campaigning in Florida because it is an expensive state, Ron Paul's rise is not unexpected. As shown by the map below, Florida has a very large number of veterans (the large white area in Florida consists mostly of the sparsely inhabited Florida Everglades.) Ron Paul is the only Republican candidate with military service experience. Paul, a U.S. Air Force flight surgeon from 1963 to 1968, already enjoys overwhelming support from active and retired military voters who donate to his campaign at a 4 to 1 ratio over Romney.
The disdain by veterans against Romney could be due to the fact that he avoided the military draft for five years during the Vietnam War through a series of student and controversial Mormon ministerial deferments through the late 1960's. After those deferments ran out, Romney was eligible and registered for the draft in 1970 - but was not called.
In addition to his military service, Dr. Paul was an obstetrician. Florida has a large number of health care industry workers. Those two combined career experiences makes Ron Paul more like the people of Florida than any other Republican candidate.