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W&L Mock Convention Sees Double-Digit Win for Romney in Florida

Washington and Lee University’s student political research team the 2012 Republican Mock Convention have concluded that Mitt Romney will claim a double-digit win over New Gingrich in Tuesday’s Florida primary.

That prediction is based on research conducted by Jeff Wieand, chair of the Mock Convention’s Florida delegation and a second-year law student from Pottstown, Pa.; Zach Wilkes, the Mock Convention political committee chair and a senior politics major from Farmersville, La.; and the Mock Convention political team.

In their prediction and rationale posted on the Mock Convention’s blog on Sunday night, Jan. 29, Wieand wrote: “We expect Romney to receive 40 to 46% of the vote, with Gingrich coming in second with 28 to 34%, Santorum finishing in third with 12 to 18%, and Paul rounding out the group with 6 to 12%, though these ranges could fluctuate by a few percentage points over the next two days.”

Earlier this year, the Mock Convention predicted wins for Romney in Iowa and New Hampshire and for Gingrich in South Carolina.

Wieand wrote that “the Gingrich who commanded the debates in South Carolina failed to appear on the stage in Florida and was beaten back by Romney’s newfound aggression.  Gingrich’s faltering debate performances, combined with an all-out attack from the Romney campaign and much of the Republican establishment, allowed Romney to quickly regain lost ground .”

In addition to weak debate performances, Wieand concluded, Romney’s decision to release his tax returns was a factor in his resurgence, and some of the ads that Gingrich aired in Florida hurt more than helped his candidacy there.

With the W&L Mock Convention less than two weeks away, the Florida primary will once again signal a shift in the race, according to Wilkes. “Romney will reassert himself as the national frontrunner and a clear favorite for the nomination, and Gingrich will have to be increasingly aggressive and take more risks going forward to have a chance at overtaking Romney.”

Noting that the February schedule does not favor Gingrich, especially since there are no upcoming debates, Wilkes did not rule anything out. “If anyone can once again rise from the political dead, it is Newt Gingrich. If he can pull an upset or two in February and regroup for Super Tuesday on March 6, the race for the nomination could draft through mid-summer.”

The W&L students must make their choice of a Republican nominee on Feb. 11, the third and final day of the three-day Mock Convention. The quadrennial event, in which W&L students choose the nominee of the party out of power, will feature major speakers. It has been correct more than 75 percent of the time, with only two incorrect predictions since 1948.

The Mock Convention festivities will begin on Thursday (Feb. 9), with a debate between top Democratic strategist James Carville and GOP pundit Ann Coulter, followed by a speech by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. A parade throughout downtown Lexington will be held on Friday (Feb. 10). The lineup of speakers includes former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and House Majority Leader and Virginia Representative Eric Cantor.

Kali McFarland ’12

(757) 404-1214

Katy Stewart ’13

(704) 560-2120

Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs

(540) 458-8459