If Newt Gingrich doesn't win the Florida primary, he won't have much of an opportunity to recover over the ensuing weeks. There is only one debate scheduled in February.
Gingrich had a poor debate last night. He'll get another crack at Mitt Romney on Thursday, January 26th, before Florida Republicans go to the polls on January 31st. But there will not be another Republican debate for three-and-a-half weeks, when the candidates meet on February 22nd in Arizona.
The debates provide Gingrich with something he can't buy: television time to air his views and the face-to-face encounters with his opponents that give him a chance to drive the news cycle, generate momentum, and give potential donors a reason to think they should contribute to his campaign.
If Romney manages to win Florida (the early voting from before Newt's rise could help him), Gingrich might lose all of those advantages. Romney has the money to buy television ads, and he would have the front-runner status that relieves him of the need to attack any other candidates. Gingrich, by contrast, might lose fundraising momentum.
Romney still has an uphill fight in Florida, but Gingrich needs the win there even more than Romney does.
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