Behind the big Romney win in Florida are five significant factors that turned the tide of the election:
1) Romney's stellar debate performances leading up to the primary. Romney stumbled in early debates. But then he got a new debate coach and came roaring back. Romney showed he's willing to fight -- willing to mess things up a bit -- and GOP voters liked that. They want to see somebody who's gonna take it to Obama in November -- someone who's not afraid of a good fight; someone who can be sharp, feisty, fearless. Romney began to show them that and they liked what they saw.
2) Gingrich's crazy ideas. Gingrich's looney ideas about a colony on the moon and other pie-in-the-sky schemes began to catch up with him. The man likes the sound of his own voice so much that he doesn't pay very much attention to what he's actually saying. He's undisciplined. He's peripatetic. Sloppiness doesn't win elections. Discipline does. See my column in the Philadelphia Daily News tomorrow for more on this.
3) Senior citizens. Seniors vote -- and they went big for Romney. They like his steadiness, his sensibility and his stability. They like the fact that Romney looks and acts like a President -- that he appears to be ready to assume the office; ready to run the country. My hunch is they also like the fact that he has a real, intact family and that he's been married to the same woman his whole married life.
4) The economy. The more people worry about the economy, the more they turn to Romney, the businessman. Romney's business acumen plays well during economic upheaval and economic hard times.
5) Electability. Among those who made their decision based who has the best chance to actually be elected in November, Romney won running away. More and more people see him as a winner -- the one candidate who can lead the party to victory this year.
Now, look for calls from party leaders for Gingrich to get out of the race and for everyone to begin to coalesce around Romney. The GOP doesn't like long, bloody battles -- especially once a clear leader has emerged. There will be a lot of pressure on Gingrich. A lot. He would do well to pay attention to those who have the best interests of the party at heart.