ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Virtually every political analyst agrees the I-4 corridor is the key to winning Florida, and that swath of Central Florida went strongly for Mitt Romney.
Stretching from Volusia County on the east coast to Pinellas County on the west coast, Romney took nearly 50 percent of the vote. Newt Gingrich, as in much of the state, finished a distant second at 29 percent of the I-4 vote (with more than 80 percent of precincts reporting).
Many believed Jacksonville and Duval County would boost Gingrich. As a Georgia native, Gingrich campaigned heavily in northern Florida, but lost several of those counties to Romney. In Duval County, Romney took 49 percent with Gingrich mustering just 33 percent.
Southern Florida leaned toward Romney through much of the primary campaigning and proved to strongly favor the former Massachusetts Governor. Romney spent a lot of money on Spanish-language commercials in the Miami market and it paid off with more than 60 percent of voters choosing Romney (with 88 percent of precincts reporting).
Hispanic voters comprised roughly 15 percent of Republican voters and a majority of them appeared to choose Romney. In the counties with the largest Hispanic populations, Romney finished strong.
Looking forward to the general election in November, the Republican nominee will have to win the same areas of the state where Romney did well in the primary. Again, the I-4 corridor should prove to be the bellwether of Florida voters.
More Florida Primary Coverage: