Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After more than a week of campaigning both in person and through attack ads on television, Mitt Romney is poised Tuesday to take a commanding lead in the race for the Republican nomination to face President Barack Obama in November’s general election.
Romney has led in almost every Florida poll since he lost the South Carolina primary a little more than a week ago.
Romney’s lead has ranged from just a few points to as many as 20 points in a survey released Monday.
In the final 72 hours of polls, Gingrich seemed to make a small move back towards Romney, but it doesn’t appear to be enough to overcome Romney’s advantage.
On Tuesday, just before noon, Romney arrived at this Tampa headquarters to thank those who got him where he was.
“If I am the nominee of the Republican Party, I will go aggressively after President Obama’s failed record, point out almost every single action he has taken that has made it harder for this country to recover,” Romney told the faithful. “I will do everything in my power to get jobs for the American people.”
That’s exactly what his supporters in Central Florida wanted to hear.
“Well he seems to run his own life financially well and at this state of our economy, I truly look for that because somebody has got to pull us out of this,” said Connie Mosier.
According to the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight analysis, Mitt Romney has a 97 percent chance of winning Florida’s primary Tuesday.
FiveThirtyEight forecasted Romney would capture 44 percent of the Florida vote to Gingrich’s 29.3 percent.
The polling doesn’t necessarily include the early and absentee voting numbers, which will likely be titled in favor of Romney.
Essentially, Romney would have to lose by double-digits among Tuesday voters for Gingrich to have a chance at winning the Florida Primary.
Romney currently has 21 delegates after the first three primary/caucuses.
A win in the winner-take-all Florida Primary would give Romney 71 delegates and put him well ahead of Gingrich in the race to get to 1,144 delegates to win the nomination.
Romney is spending the day in Tampa, where he is expected to address supporters later this evening after the polls close at 8 p.m. in the Florida panhandle.
The biggest roadblock for Romney capturing the general election will be if Rick Santorum decides to abandon his run for the White House and throw his support behind fellow conservative Newt Gingrich.
Santorum and Gingrich both being in the race has opened the door for Romney to take the lead.
If Romney has to face either Santorum or Gingrich alone with the other supporting them, it could make the primary race last all the way to the convention later this year in Tampa.
After Florida, Romney will turn his attention to Maine and Nevada which both have votes scheduled for Saturday.
Then Colorado and Minnesota will vote next Tuesday before the candidates get a couple of weeks to rest before Arizona, Michigan, and Washington all vote before Super Tuesday.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said “the winner of Florida is in all likelihood going to be the nominee of our party.”