Last night Mitt Romney won a “decisive victory” in the Republican presidential primary in Florida, with 46 percent of the statewide vote. Many space advocates are wondering if the candidates’ space positions, particularly the speeches made last week by Romney and Newt Gingrich, made much of a difference. One way to check is to see how voters in Brevard County—the heart of the Space Coast—voted compared to the rest of the state, based on data from Florida’s Division of Elections:
The numbers don’t suggest that space played a major factor in the election on the Space Coast. Romney polled nearly four percentage points lower in Brevard than the state as a whole, but if these voters were rejecting his space policy, they weren’t necessarily attracted by Gingrich’s alternative: Gingrich polled only one percentage point higher in Brevard than he did statewide, but Rick Santorum—who said little about space and even canceled a campaign appearance in the county—did two percentage points better there.
A harder question to answer, though, is whether Gingrich’s space comments, including his calls for a Moon base by 2020 and even the potential for lunar statehood, more broadly helped or hurt him statewide. Those comments got a lot of attention—far more than Romney’s more pragmatic propsoals on Friday—including a significant amount of derision and ridicule in the media. It doesn’t show up in exit polls, which found the economy to be by far the most significant issue among voters. But was it lurking in voters’ minds when they cast their ballots Tuesday?