The Democrats dominated the news over the past few days, but the attention now shifts to the Republican race and their Florida primary. If McCain wins on Tuesday, he will be very close to clinching the nomination. The two new polls released this morning show a very tight race with Romney making up his deficit of the past few days:
* Zogby"s tracking poll has McCain and Romney tied at 30%, an improvement for Mitt who trailed 31-28 yesterday. There is also some movement behind, as Huckabee has surged from 10% to 14% and Giuliani has fallen to fourth place at 13%. Among very conservative voters, Romney leads 40% to McCain's 19%, with Huckabee at 20%. Among moderates, it's 42% for McCain and 17% for Romney.
* Next, the Rasmussen poll continues to show Romney up, this time 33% to 27% with Giuliani at 18% and Huckabee at 12%. Earlier in the week, Romney was up 4%.
* Update: A third poll has Romney opening up a small lead, as Insider Advantage shows him ahead 26% to 24%. The previous numbers were tied at 23%. (Second update: In the comments, Steve points out that those were yesterday's number and that today's have Romney and McCain back in a tie, at 25%.)
But new developments since these polls were taken could help McCain (though with about a third of the electorate having already voted absentee or early, last-minute shifts will be harder to discern than usual). In particular, McCain got two significant endorsements over the past few days. First, Senator Mel Martinez announced he would back his colleague which should help McCain in the Cuban community. More importantly, Governor Crist announced yesterday that he was endorsing McCain and would stump with the Senator. Crist, first elected in 2006, is very popular in the state though he is distrusted by some conservative activists (a group that McCain has arguably already lost).
Crist's choice is a blow to Rudy Giuliani who had been courting the Governor. Crist was reportedly on supporting Giuliani in the fall but McCain's camp got him to wait and see if McCain could recover. Indeed, McCain had campaigned for Crist in 2006 and was hoping that the newly-elected governor would return the favor. Now, Crist's endorsement at such a critical time has led to speculation that McCain could tap Crist for VP.
Continue reading OTB member Daniel Nichanian over on his blog, Campaign Diaries.