The Florida primary on Tuesday reshaped the battle among
Republican presidential candidates with John McCain and Mitt Romney
taking momentum to the full-scale race on "Super Tuesday" on
McCain, the 71-year-old Arizona Senator, has reversed the
"underdog" situation he suffered at the beginning of the campaign
due to his age and fund-raising, and stood out as a front-runner
with rising support among Republican and independent voters.
McCain garnered 36 percent of the votes against 31 percent for
former Massachusetts governor Romney, with all the precincts'
ballots having been calculated.
The results showed McCain, who is more popular among independent
voters than his rivals, also has a strong footing in registered
CNN exit polls showed that compared with Romney, McCain's
support rates were 10 percentage points lower, but his support
rates among moderate and liberal voters were almost 20 percentage
With a wider voter base, McCain is expected to sweep the 22
states that will hold their Republican primaries and caucuses on
It is no surprise that McCain, who was taken prisoner during the
Vietnam War and has worked on defense and foreign affairs for years
in the Senate, win more votes among veterans and those who care
about the Iraq war.
In the meantime, he is also popular among those voters who cite
the economy as their top concern and who account for 45 percent of
the total. In contrast, Romney, a successful businessman, has
always paraded his experience in handling economic issues during
According to CNN political correspondents, McCain's character
matters when voters look at the candidates' trustworthiness, which
has haunted Romney for his changeable message on issues including
However, Romney will remain as a major contender and hinge his
fate on the performance on "Super Tuesday", analysts said.
Finishing third in Florida, with 15 percentage points lower than
the second, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's "big-state
strategy" has virtually failed.
CNN reports said he would probably leave the game and stand
behind McCain soon. Political analysts are still wondering why
Giuliani dropped from No. 1 in the national poll and has appeared
to be the first major candidate to go.
The Florida primary is less important for the Democrats as the
Democratic National Committee stripped the state of all its 210
convention delegates for violating party rules by holding its
primary earlier than February 5.
However, New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's win is still
expected to shore up her momentum to lead on "Super Tuesday".
Once again, females, seniors and Latino voters, who take up a
large share of Florida Democratic voters, pushed the former First
Lady to the top, according to the exit polls.
(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2008)