the immigrant-rich Miami region, the more conservative north or the retirees sprinkled around the state who carry with them the political loyalties bred elsewhere.
Even in states that might seem more homogenous, political wins come down to rolling up support in some combination of constituencies. Mitt Romney’s side think he has 125,000 votes stashed away from early voting, before he started collapsing in South Carolina. Call that the “inevitability vote.” But if you look at Newt Gingrich’s rise in the South Carolina polls, you’ll see that he blocked Mitt Romney’s path to victory in constituency after constituency. From Public Policy Polling’s last poll before the South Carolina vote:
Gingrich is leading with pretty much every key segment of the Republican electorate. He’s up 41-21 on Romney and Santorum with Evangelicals, he has a 52-18 advantage on Romney with Tea Partiers, he leads Santorum 44-21 with ‘very conservative’ voters with Romney at 20%, and he’s up 39-26 with men.
Dig around in the PPP survey (pdf), and you’ll see that Mr. Gingrich went into the vote leading Mr. Romney 37-21 among Democrats and 26-25 among independents. He won every sprinkle on the cupcake, and then he won the primary. Two new polls out this morning show Mr. Gingrich leading in Florida by 9 points, even if the general electorate still doesn’t think much of him.
(Chart: Talking Point Memo, w/embed code)