Romney wins Florida primary with strong student support
Tuesday's election reestablished Romney as front-runner for the Republican nomination
January 31, 2012, 11:55 pm · Updated February 2, 2012, 10:26 pm·
Mitt Romney coasted to a victory in the Florida primary yesterday, reclaiming his title as the frontrunner of the Republican presidential race.
Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, received more votes than his two closest competitors — former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum — combined.
Romney garnered 46.4 percent of the vote, followed by Gingrich with 31.9 percent and Santorum with 13.4 percent. Texas Rep. Ron Paul came in last place with 7.0 percent.
“The fact that [Romney] won by such a large margin … shows that he’s running a great campaign,” said College freshman Anthony Cruz, the political director of Penn College Republicans.
After winning the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary, Gingrich had posed a strong challenge to Romney in Florida. But Romney fought back against Gingrich’s momentum with aggressive advertising and a dominant debate performance last week.
“Gingrich still has a lot of support, but I think it’s fading, especially after tonight’s victory [for Romney],” Cruz said.
Romney came in first place among voters between the ages of 18 to 29, according to exit polls conducted by Edison Research. He won 39 percent of the youth vote in the polls.
Ryan Heffner, a spokesperson for the Florida Federation of College Republicans, said that “job creation is the number one priority for young voters” in Florida, which may be one of the reasons Romney saw such strong support in the state.
Romney “has a great resume,” said Heffner, a junior at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla. “He’s created jobs, and that’s what people want. He’s actually a businessman.”
Although Paul ranked last place overall, he came in second among young voters, garnering 26 percent of their vote in the exit polls.
The next contest for the Republicans will be in Nevada, which will hold its caucus on Saturday.