After the Michigan contest, no one is counting out Romney, who has the support of many players in former Gov. Jeb Bush's organization, including former Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings. "It's like the tortoise and the hare," she says. "McCain and Huckabee are the hares, and Romney is the tortoise—slow, steady, and methodical." She says Romney's economic message, which resonated in Michigan, does the same in Florida. "Floridians are looking for someone to stabilize this economy—help us in our ability to earn our living and not lose what we have," she said. But Romney and Huckabee may be battling for the same pool of voters here, says Keller, who predicts that there is room for only one social conservative to emerge before the state's primary—Romney, Huckabee, or Fred Thompson. And the survivor will make it a three-way battle with Giuliani and McCain.
"There have been three must-wins—Romney in Michigan, [Fred] Thompson in South Carolina, and Giuliani in Florida," says Oliver. "This is Giuliani's firewall, and everyone is watching closely."
Research assistance provided by Jennifer O'Shea