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McCain Takes Florida

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 30, 2008 3:13PM

2008_1_mccain_florida.jpgJohn McCain changed careers last night, from the candidate who was almost out of money (and the race) last summer to quite possibly the Republican presidential nominee. He's now the man to beat. The close but critical win in Florida gave him 57 delegates and a solid lead going into Super Duper Tuesday, (there are no superdelegates at the Republican National Convention). Hillary Clinton won the non-binding Florida race, a largely symbolic victory that featured virtually no campaigning and earned her no delegates to the convention.

McCain's win last night is also fueling speculation that Rudy Giuliani's run is over. GOP sources close to the Giuliani campaign are telling CNN that he will endorse McCain in California today. Giuliani intentionally skipped the early primaries, betting that he could carry Florida, and translate that momentum into a successful run on February 5. After his poor showing there, that strategy seems to have failed.

Hillary Clinton was taking nothing for granted in the Sunshine State. With 51 percent of the Florida vote in, she gave a fiery victory speech at a rally in Davie, declaring "this has been a record turnout because Floridians want to hear their voices heard." In fact, Clinton won the vote among those who made up their mind over a month ago, while Obama carried voters that decided in the last month. [CNN, see page 5]. Among those that decided who to vote for the day of the vote, Obama carried that group as well. Clinton also did well among older voters, and older female voters, no surprise given that overt campaigning by Democratic candidates was all but non-existent in Florida until Hillary showed up right after she lost South Carolina.

McCain's victory last night was significant, demonstrating that he can win among Republicans in a closed primary where no independents and no Democrats could cross-over and vote for him. That win could help McCain convince the rest of the party that he has a broad enough base of support to compete in a general election against a strong Democrat. Less clear is the impact that Clinton's win will have on the race. As the campaigns switch gears to national advertising and a push to turn out the vote in some 23 states, the impact of Florida may be felt (yet again) for weeks to come.

Image via AP