Florida Republicans are taking advantage of the state’s size and swing-voting status to try to make this the decisive state in the 2012 Republican primary contest.
If they’re successful, Republicans in Florida, more than any other state, could pick the nominee to run against President Barack Obama in 2012.
In the last two weeks, party leaders have acted to hang onto an early presidential primary date, despite opposition from the national party.
They’ve also set up an early presidential straw poll for this fall that insiders believe could shape the primary contest â a straw poll designed to be a more valid test of the candidates than most presidential straw polls.
In the amorphous field of potential candidates with no clear frontrunner, the Presidency 5 straw poll could pick a frontrunner; or it could create momentum for lesser-known candidates, converting them into serious contenders.
The straw poll’s importance will increase if Florida gets the primary date legislative leaders have said they want, immediately after the four small, early states now scheduled to hold primaries and caucuses in February.
“Florida arguably was the state that made the decision in 2008″ in the GOP primary, said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato, a long-time analyst of national politics.
“If Florida could maintain its 2008 position, it could probably decide the 2012 nomination also.”
In 2008, Florida’s January primary made John McCain the clear frontrunner in the race, effectively ending Rudy Giuliani’s campaign and leaving Mitt Romney as McCain’s only significant competitor.