Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich spent the final day before voting in Florida campaigning in the state. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul did not.
Why skip Florida? Check the delegate rules.
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Florida has 50 delegates at stake. Unlike Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, the Florida state GOP uses winner-take-all rules to allocate its delegates. Only the first place winner in the primary will receive these delegates.
Florida polls show Romney leading Gingrich in the Sunshine State. Meanwhile, Paul and Santorum are campaigning in upcoming caucus states like Nevada and Colorado, where second and third-place candidates can still rake in some delegates. Florida is an expensive state to shop for votes; spending time and resources in caucus states, where a small group of organized voters can make a big difference, gives under-funded candidates a chance to jump ahead of their opponents.
Romney has earned 34 delegates since the primaries began, according to CNN estimates. Gingrich has garnered 27, Paul has earned ten, and Santorum has bagged eight. CNN's delegate estimates are based on state contest results and a CNN survey of unpledged Republican National Committee delegates who can vote for any candidate they choose, regardless of their state's contest results.
South Carolina gave Gingrich a much-needed boost in delegates. In an almost-clean sweep, he earned 23 of the 25 delegates at stake. Romney earned the remaining two.
Florida represents about four percent of the votes needed to win the nomination – the most of any single state so far. Its winner-take-all status will give the victor a temporary lead over the other candidates.
It currently takes 1,144 delegate votes to win the GOP presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention this August in Tampa, Florida.