It's primary day in Florida, where today's high is expected to be 79 in Tampa and GOP voters across the state are casting ballots in the presidential race.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appears headed for victory tonight — but everyone will be watching the margin by which he tops ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich. The final tracking poll by Public Policy Polling (a Democratic firm) found Romney at 39 percent and Gingrich at 31 percent.
"At the end of the day in Florida we're right back where we started," PPP surmised. "Romney was always seen as a solid favorite in the state and for all the twists and turns over the last six months it looks like he'll win a good sized victory just as was expected all along."
It's yet another reminder that polls are only a snapshot in time and their results are driven by recent events. Whatever the numbers are, we shouldn't lose sight of the broader picture. That's the takeaway from Stuart Rothenberg's column in today's Roll Call — context matters. He looks at the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (his favorite, he tell us) by Peter Hart (D) and Bill McInturff (R) that showed improving news for Democrats. Read the full poll here.
"I don't for a moment dispute the poll's numbers, which show growing public optimism, a politically stronger President Barack Obama, damage to the image of likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney and improved prospects for a second Obama term. But if context is important — and it always is — I'd be cautious about jumping to conclusions on the basis of the most recent Hart-McInturff survey."Eliza Newlin Carney
"The biggest Gingrich-friendly super PAC spent $6 million in Florida backing the former Speaker, but a big chunk of it went into a ground operation that some argue was too ambitious for an independent group," she writes.
In Congressional race news today, the National Republican Congressional Committee will name 10 more Members to its Patriot Program, Joshua Miller reports. The list includes three vulnerable freshmen and seven more veteran Members who were weakened by redistricting. There are now 30 GOP incumbents in the program this cycle.
Finally, while most everyone will be watching Florida tonight, we'll be keeping one eye on the first Congressional race of 2012 all the way across the country. We should know the winner of the all-vote-by-mail special election to succeed ex-Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) sometime after 11 p.m. State Sen. Suzanne Bonamici (D) should be the next Congresswoman from the Portland-area district, Kyle Trygstad reports. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic-aligned outside groups have spent at least $1.8 million to hold a district that Barack Obama won with 61 percent in 2008.