Who will Florida choose?

If it was the port that built New York, the railroad that made Chicago, the movies who made Hollywood, it was "air conditioning" that made Florida.

Window units arrived here in the early 1950s.  During the next fifteen years five million people moved here from other states. 

With them grew Florida's political clout.  When Jack Kennedy lost this state in 1960 it meant the loss of 10 electoral votes. Lose it today and nearly three times the number go from you to the other candidate - a swing of almost sixty electoral votes.

Florida is one of the country's top four electoral powerhouses. What makes it most important?  It's the only one that's up for grabs.  Texas goes Republican.  New York and California go Democrat.  Only the Sunshine State plays it coy. 

Ever since that 1960 Kennedy-Nixon election it's failed just once to be with the winner.  In the year 2000 - with the help of the Supreme Court - it memorably got to decide the winner.  

It's a big state, a swing state, the biggest of the swing states. Come November, we'll be watching how this nasty primary fight affects the result.  Will it turn on the hard right or begin to turn it off?

Either way, this state is nobody's baby.

So as a prelude to tonight's results let me suggest the thinking of the Obama people. It's from a republican, a French Republican if you will. "Never interfere," said Napoleon Bonaparte, "when your enemy is in the process of destroying himself."

This primary battle in Florida has been a nasty, nasty fight.  There will be no hand-holding when this is over, no "the best man has won" stuff.  No, this fight has been a pooh storm and nobody's walking away clean. 

The Republicans may nominate Romney after this, but not the same Romney who came here.  They've been forced to choose between running an establishment type - one right from the ruling class - or a wild claimant to the Tea Party mantel.  And the fight between the two may not end here. Suppose Newt's charges stick!  Suppose the tea party folk out there continue to see Romney as the heir to the old Republican aristocracy.  If so, they may end up this fall outsourcing their nomination to someone who's not one of them, to someone who represents the very establishment they're rebelling against.  They may end up running a Hessian to fight the revolution.