Three races. Three winners. Inevitable, Mitt Romney is no longer. In a race that Romney was ahead in the polls in up until the last few days, it was no squeaker. Newt Gingrich blew the former Massachusetts Governor out of the water, with a 13-point win in the South Carolina primary, upending the nomination race.
Not only did Romney lose South Carolina to Gingrich, but a few minutes before midnight on Friday night, the Iowa GOP finally declared Rick Santorum the ultimate winner of the Iowa Caucus. Through a fumbled recount, including eight precincts results' that were lost to history, the lead went from Romney up by 8, to Santorum ultimately up 34 votes.
This will leave Romney limping a bit going into Florida, with the former House Speaker charging onto the scene with a full head of steam.
Complicating efforts to determine what this is all means is the fact that nearly 200,000 votes have already been cast in the Florida primary through early voting. Most of those votes were cast before Gingrich's latest return from the political graveyard.
Romney has a strong ground game going in Florida with a heavy emphasis on early ballot chase — where he has the opportunity to build a wall to defend against the coming Gingrich wave. According to some reports, he has also had $7 million on ads spent there by his campaign and pro-Romney Super PACs, compared to virtually nothing by his opponents.
But, as South Carolina and Iowa proved, Romney's superior organization and campaign bank account is no match for genuine momentum.
Whether that holds true in a large state with multiple major media markets like Florida, we'll see.
Gingrich will get two more opportunities to clobber Romney in debates, free media no campaign commercial can beat.
What this all ultimately means is that this nomination race just got a bit longer. That, and The Denver Post might want to consider retracting their article about how the Colorado GOP caucuses won't matter anymore.
Florida, rather than being a coronation state for Romney, will be a full-on battleground. The next contests after that are Minnesota and Colorado on February 7.
More on the coming Colorado caucus battle later, but suffice it say, GOP Chairman Ryan Call was prescient when he warned The Denver Post it would be a "long campaign."
A long campaign is to the GOP's benefit. It keeps the billion dollar Obama machine on the sidelines longer. It makes sure the Republican nominee is vetted, tested and ready for the fight.
So we welcome the long fight. As worshipers at the altar of brass knuckle politics, we believe that if Romney or Gingrich can't take the punches from each other they don't belong in the center ring.