Mitt Romney won Florida partly because he was able to bury his opponents with negative ads. In Florida Romney and his allied SuperPAC outspent Newt Gingrich and his SuperPAC by a margin of four to one. Looking at the FEC filing report data, Romney has the money, if needed, to continue a strategy of crushing opponents with overwhelming spending on negative ads.
The Romney campaign currently has $19.9 million cash on hand. That is a lot of money. Just to give you an idea of how much money that is, it is almost as much money as Mitt Romney makes in a year.
In comparison Newt Gingrich’s campaign has only $2.1 million cash on hand and $1.2 million in outstanding debt. After Gingrich’s double digit loss in Florida, I don’t expect many donors are exactly rushing to give him more money. Gingrich has only a fraction of the available funds Romney has on hand.
In addition Romney is an incredibly rich individual; he can quickly inject tens of millions of his own personal fortune into the campaign if needed to put himself over the top.
Until now there were debates every few days that gave the candidates a lot of free exposure. Until Florida, the primary states were also small and could be easily saturated with spending and campaigning by multiple candidates. As a result the money advantage was less important.
Going forward that changes. There is only one debate in the month of February, on the 22nd. With so many states holding their primaries on Super Tuesday, it will be impossible to reach a large share of the voters by that day using campaign stops or retail politics. Running ads in even most of the relevant media works for Super Tuesday will be extremely expensive. This will provide an even larger opportunity than we saw in Florida for a much better funded candidate to truly overwhelm the airwaves with negative ads.
It is possible Gingrich will get some other set of millionaires to inject even more funds into his candidacy, but at this point Gingrich is at a serious financial disadvantage just when money starts really mattering.