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Election 2012: Expect a long primary season

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Three states, three winners and no clear front-runner leaves the Florida Republican primary up for grabs and is likely going to lead to a long Republican primary season, Emory election experts say.   

A Two-Man Race: Romney vs. Gingrich

Newt Gingrich’s dominant win in the South Carolina primary changes the contours of the Republican nomination as he’s now leading in several polls in Florida, says political science professor and election forecasting expert Alan Abramowitz. Finances and campaign structure heavily favor Romney, Abramowitz says, but the debates compensate for Romney’s money advantage, allowing Gingrich to get his message out.   

“Gingrich received a big boost after the South Carolina win,” Abramowitz explains. “After New Hampshire, Romney was up by 20 points in the national polls. Now Gingrich is just five points behind.”  

Republican Insiders Fearful of Gingrich Nomination

Washington Republican insiders prefer a Mitt Romney candidacy because they are scared of what Newt Gingrich might do to the party, says political science professor and national politics expert Merle Black. Gingrich likes to compare himself to Ronald Reagan, but some Republicans believe he’s the new Barry Goldwater, Black says.  

“In 1964, Goldwater won the Deep South, Arizona and lost everything else leaving some to question if it was the end of the Republican Party,” Black says. “The majority of Americans view Gingrich unfavorably, around 70 percent. If that number doesn’t change, he could never win the presidency.”  

See our Election 2012 page for additional experts or view a collection of expert interviews on YouTube.

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