And, not by a small margin. Newt Gingrich certainly hoped to be at least closer to Romney in Florida, but at this point, Romney is up by double digits and once they count the rest of the votes, that is unlikely to change.
What does this mean? Well, it means that Gingrich took a nose-dive of his own accord, it shows the power of ads, and the influence of debates.
Gingrich's nose-dive: Gingrich has spent his time in Florida unfocused on the goal of beating Obama. Instead, he has whined about Romney's negative ads, which are a direct reaction to Gingrich's attacks in South Carolina. Gingrich talked about moon colonies instead of the economy.
Negative ads were run by the Super PACs in Florida, mostly by Romney. Romney new he had to come out strong against Gingrich after being rattled in South Carolina, so he went to Florida to win. And it worked.
As for the debates, there were two key debates last week where Gingrich looked weaker than he ever has on a debate stage as he did not know how to answer Romney's aggressive debate posture, which was stronger than ever before.
All of this translates into a decided Romney victory.
Going forward, Romney is likely not to win all of the states and he is still vulnerable in the Christian south. Gingrich could win some states, but needs to pull his focus in and remember that right now, it is about the economy and beating Obama.
As for Santorum, as previously mentioned on this blog, he is in a pure sense my favorite. But, he has to be able to convince more than me and a few others that he can be a front-runner. I would prefer to see a Santorum-Romney showdown. Santorum has started to focus already on future states. If Gingrich continues with his unfocused campaign, Santorum very well could be back in the top two.