Tonight is the GOP’s 19th debate, at 8 p.m ET on CNN. Tune in to TPM for live coverage. Here are ten things you need to know.
- Gingrich a weak match-up against Obama: A new Suffolk University poll shows that Newt Gingrich would not fare well against President Obama in Florida. Mitt Romney leads Obama 47% to 42% in the state, but Obama beats Gingrich by 9 points, 49%-40%. Obama also kills Gingrich among independents 56% to 29%.
- Marist goes into the Florida field: The college’s pollsters started conducting a Florida poll on Wednesday. Their last numbers during the first Gingrich surge in December showed him with a huge lead in the state, but the latest numbers from other pollers this week show Romney on the rebound. The TPM Poll Average currently shows a 8.2 percent lead for Romney.
- New poll shows Americans increasingly optimistic about the economy: Two days after the State of the Union, an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows more Americans are optimistic about the economy: “More people said they believe the economy will get better (37 percent) in the next year rather than worse (17 percent). That’s the highest level in more than a year and a seven-point jump over last month.” The better people think the economy is, the better Obama’s election prospects.
- DNC Chairwoman talks Romney’s obstacles in Florida: At 3:30 PM Thursday, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will hold a press conference in Jacksonville, Florida on chief-rival Mitt Romney’s “obstacles” in the state. More specifically, the conference will focus on jobs lost in Florida when Bain Capital shut down Florida-based Dade Behring.
- Jeb Bush cautions Republicans about importance of Latino vote: In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Jeb Bush reminded Republicans — and by extension Romney and Gingrich — that “In the 15 states that are likely to decide who controls the White House and the Senate in 2013, Hispanic voters will represent the margin of victory.” Jeb, as well as his brother George, represent a Republicanism which recognizes the importance of the Latino vote — which Republicans this year, at least judging by their rhetoric, seem to have forgotten.
- DCCC raises $61 million in 2011: Democrats are citing their impressive 2011 fundraising number — over $61 million — as evidence of momentum for their push to take back the House in 2012. It’s impressive that the party in the minority outraised the majority party by several million dollars, they say.
- Bachmann will run for re-election: A spokesperson for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann has confirmed that the congresswoman will seek re-election in 2012. Since Bachmann’s Minnesota district hasn’t even been redrawn yet, it’s unclear just how much of a challenge the race will be for the representative. Her popularity has declined in the state following her failed run for the presidency.
- Romney’s Swiss bank account won’t go away: Nothing spells rich to Americans more than the words ‘Swiss bank account.’ Democrats aren’t likely to let it go. A Tweet from Rupert Murdoch, who’s new to Twitter, piles onto the embarrassment: “Romney’s tax returns might kill his chances. See Republican establishment panic now!”
- Will the candidates contest Florida’s winner-take-all delegate allotment?: As of now, all 50 of Florida’s delegates will be awarded to Tuesday night’s primary winner. But that could change. If the nomination ends up being decided by a small margin, the dispute over whether the RNC properly allowed Florida to declare a winner-take-all-primary could become a real fight.
- The campaign ahead of debate: Before gathering in Jacksonville for the CNN debate Thursday evening, the candidates will campaign across the state with several rallies. One Friday, Gingrich, Romney, and Santorum will address the Hispanic Leadership Conference in Miami — an event for conservative Latinos co-chaired by Jeb Bush.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.