Reporter's Note: Mitt Romney won the Florida Republican primary. President Obama wins another letter from me.
Dear Mr. President,
Here's the thing: I honestly thought for a little while that the Republicans might be losing some steam.
All the infighting, nasty ads, and sharp words at their debates had me wondering if they really were damaging themselves. Certainly they've tossed a lot of ammunition your way for the general election, and it did not seem unreasonable to wonder if they'd opened deep fractures in their own support.
But I met a woman in Nevada today who made me think to the contrary. She wants Newt Gingrich to be the nominee. Or Rick Santorum. Or anyone who will be a more dyed in the wool, hard core, Tea Party conservative.
And yet, for all her fervor on that subject, when I asked "So what will you do if Romney gets the nomination?" she did not hesitate a second. "I will get out there and campaign for him," she said. "I will go door to door, I will hand out flyers, I will put up yard signs. Because anyone is better than Obama."
Don't be lulled into complacency. Maybe the GOP will be battered by their selection process, but it looks like they'll come out battling...and united...just the same.
The candidates speak out after presidential candidate Mitt Romney wins the Florida primary.
Here's how big Mitt Romney's Florida win may be tonight: So big, he was able to win voting blocs he's often struggled to capture so far this year - groups like men, young voters and the middle class. Voters cited him as the candidate most likely to understand average Americans' problems. And late breaking voters broke his way.
So who didn't get swept away in the Romney romp?
You can start with the Tea Party. Romney pulled a respectable 33% among voters who strongly support the Tea Party, according to early exit polls - but that showing pales in comparison to the 46% captured by Newt Gingrich. The 7% of voters whose most important issue this year was abortion overwhelmingly backed Gingrich over Romney, 44 to 24%. So did voters looking for a true conservative: they picked Gingrich over Romney by a greater than 4-to-1 margin.
In other words: the exit polls suggest the party's most conservative voters still haven't warned to Romney just yet. But there are signs of movement: voters who believe abortion should be illegal backed both men in equal numbers. Evangelicals gave a slight 3-point edge to Gingrich - but Romney nearly closed that massive gap. And in the Panhandle - the state's most conservative region - the two men are neck-and-neck at 38%.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
Questions or comments? Send an email
Want to know more? Go behind the scenes with