How Florida increased the odds of nominating Romney

The RNC is displeased that its schedule, carefully planned to allow more states to play a role in choosing the nominee, has been upended. Party officials now face exactly what they sought to avoid: a compressed schedule right out of the gate. That means the game is set up to favor whoever gets early momentum and has the resources to fund strong operations in each of the early states.

By catapulting itself into the first month of the primary season, Florida offers a unique problem for candidates that the other early states don’t: it’s very expensive. Florida is a diverse state with many media markets and constituencies. It offers essentially three or four very different political demographics—seniors and snowbirds, Miami Cubans, more conservative Panhandle residents, and the cosmopolitan central state residents—which require different messaging.

“You can ‘live off the land’ in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, but Florida is a media state. You can’t rely on retail politics there,” says Ed Rollins, Michele Bachmann’s former campaign manager. “You need a minimum of $1 million to $2 million a week in TV and at least three weeks of [the campaign] focusing on Florida.”…

“Any process that makes it harder for Perry to get nominated is bad for the president,” says Democratic strategist Steve McMahon. If Florida stuck with its original date “and the ‘ankle biters’—the third-tier candidates—had dropped out and it’s mano-a-mano, Perry would have a better chance.” Instead, with a tight calendar, most of those wannabes will be hanging on and nipping at Perry’s heels—splintering the opposition to Romney in a key mega-state.