In any other year, Mitt Romney's decisive win in Florida on Tuesday night might wrap up the race for the GOP presidential race. But this isn't any other year. His primary opponent, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, made moves online that suggested he wasn't about to give up.
The race was clearly Romney's the moment the polls closed at 8 p.m. ET. Politico was reporting soon afterwards that the former Mass. governor scored 47 percent of the vote.
The first comments from the Romney campaign after the polls closed came via Twitter at 8:04 p.m.:
“Thank you FL! While we celebrate this victory, we must not forget what this election is really about: defeating Barack Obama.”
The same message quickly appeared on Facebook, too. The rapid posting and decisive message clearly singals that the Romney camp is ready to move on to the general election against President Obama.
But if the Romney campaign was looking ahead, the three other Republican contenders were saying “not so fast.”
On Tuesday evening, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul all posted items on Facebook and Twitter that suggested they were not about to drop out of the hunt.
Within moments of the polls being closed, Gingrich posted a plea for money to beat “ObamneyCare,” a reference to Romney’s introduction of healthcare reform as governor of Massachusetts. Within an hour it had 5,000 likes and was shared more than 600 times. Many of the people who liked the comment wrote that Florida didn't reflect the desires of the Republican party.
“Now that you are out of Florida, where the ruling political elite go when they retire, it's time to get going again, Newt! Not surprised that you didn't win among retired New Yorkers and college kids. That's not a conservative crowd. Time to get going again,” wrote Jeff Graham.
It appeared that Santorum and Paul were taking the same course of action online, giving little hint that their campaigns could fade out soon. Paul didn't even mention the Florida primary on either Facebook or Twitter, instead posting photos and stories from recent campaign stops in Maine and Colorado. Santorum, on the other hand, did address the Florida vote, but said his path to the White House was elsewhere.
“Thanks to everyone who voted for Rick today in Florida and to all the faithful volunteers who have been working hard to support true conservative principles of freedom. The race is wide open as we all focus ahead in this marathon race toward the White House,” the campaign wrote.
One explanation for the campaign’s quick response: They saw it coming in their Web logs. According to Hitwise, a Web-traffic measurement service, more Floridians visited Romney’s website than any other of the Republican candidates. Gingrich also came in second in that race, which reviewed data from the last four weeks.