Will Florida's primary shuffle help Mitt Romney?

The Sunshine State is poised to scramble the 2012 GOP race by leapfrogging other early voting states — throwing the primary calendar into disarray

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney might benefit from Florida's push to move its primary up to January 31, as a compressed early calendar might give way to a long, expensive slog through
(Image credit: CJ GUNTHER/epa/Corbis)

Florida is going rogue. Under Republican National Committee rules, only four states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada — are allowed to hold their presidential nominating contests before March 6. But Florida wants to jump ahead with a Jan. 31 primary. If that happens, all four early-voting states would likely reschedule to ensure they go before Florida, pushing several nominating contests into January 2012 — and maybe even December 2011. Which GOP frontrunner would benefit from that calendar shuffle — Mitt Romney or Rick Perry?

This is good news for Mitt: The big winner of this calendar change is once-and-future frontrunner Mitt Romney, argue Ben Smith and Emily Schultheis at Politico. Perry has "just one clear path" to the nomination: "To blow the doors off the race with early momentum and never let up." That might not be easy with a compressed early calendar. Unlike early states like Iowa and South Carolina where Perry is favored, Romney stands a good chance of winning Florida (not to mention New Hampshire and Nevada). If Florida prevents Perry from locking up the nomination early, the race could become a "long, expensive trek" through the spring — and that's great news for the slow-and-steady Romney.

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