Now it could not be clearer.
With victory in Florida under his belt, Mitt Romney is the man to beat in the Republican race for the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama.
After pounding rival Newt Gingrich with negative advertisements, the ex-Massachusetts governor polled 46 percent to Gingrich’s 32 percent in the key battleground state.
“I think this is the knockout blow,” said one Romney supporter in Florida. “Of course, you know there’s going to be some spin from the other teams, but I’m real happy with Romney and what he accomplished in the past week and a half.”
“I think it will give him huge momentum, beating Gingrich by this much,” another supporter said. “I think it’ll really push him ahead in the other primaries, especially coming towards Super Tuesday.”
Many US states will vote simultaneously on Super Tuesday in March. But February may prove decisive for Romney with seven states polling, five of which he won in his 2008 bid for the party’s nomination.
The former House Speaker, however, has not forgotten his recent win in South Carolina. So despite defeat in Florida, Newt Gingrich will fight on.
“It is now clear that this will be a two-person race between the conservative leader Newt Gingrich and the Massachusetts moderate,” he told supporters.
The two other contenders are trailing badly as the Republican race moves to Nevada on Saturday.