I think a loss here is more detrimental to Romney than McCain.
No doubt, a win in such a huge state that was so hotly contested, will provide Romney with incredible momentum going into Super Tuesday, will hurt McCain nationally, and deprive McCain of a much needed cash infusion. Not trying to downplay its importance.
But even if McCain loses, with Rudy either out of the race or severely diminished, McCain has to be seen as the heavy favorite in the huge winner take all states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Romney should take Utah and let’s say Massachusetts, but that will be partially offset by McCain winning Arizona. If Huckabee stays in, it’ll be tough for Romney to win in the southern states. So abstractly, you’d think a win in Florida gives Romney an edge next Tuesday, but when you look at it on a state by state basis, he still has an uphill battle.
If McCain wins, he gets a windfall of money, earned media, further boost in the national polls, and bragging rights of having won three out of four of the most hotly contested primaries.
So what I think is that a McCain win here makes him the likely nominee, whereas a Romney win means we have a dogfight on our hands.