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GOP voters still searching for Mr. Right -- Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Paul have work to do

The most important takeaway from Tuesday night's Florida primary results is that with nearly 4-in-10 (38%) of primary voters saying that they are not satisfied with any of the GOP candidates, all four contenders have a lot work to do in advance of Super Tuesday on March 6 -- when 10 states have primary contests.

Newt Gingrich

Despite a double-digits defeat last night, Gingrich beat his Republican rival Mitt Romney in both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, the former Speaker is by no means ready to concede defeat.

Indeed, emboldened by his performance in the Panhandle, Mr. Gingrich has promised supporters that he will stay in the presidential race for the next “six to eight months”

Gingrich’s campaign identified Minnesota and Colorado on Feb. 7 and Arizona on Feb. 28 as their best chances for victories in February.

But to do this, Mr. Gingrich must reassert himself as the conservative, outsider, leader of an anti-establishment, conservative insurgency –regaining the momentum with the GOP base that enabled him to strip Romney of his claim to inevitability in South Carolina.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul -- who has vowed to remain in the presidential contest -- is seeking to replicate President Obama’s low cost/high yield delegate strategy in the 2008 Democratic Primary.

Like Mr. Santorum, he ignored Florida altogether, and is now focusing exclusively on caucus states like Nevada and Minnesota.

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, now campaigning in the West, must attack both Romney and Gingrich from the right while positioning himself as the only true conservative in the race if he hopes to convince voters that he is the only formable opponent to take on President Obama.

Mitt Romney

Having overcome a huge hurdle by winning a commanding 15 point victory last night the Florida Primary, once again, it seems very likely that Governor Romney will win the GOP nomination.

But make no mistake; he’s still not the nominee.

Indeed, with 31% of Florida primary voters saying that they would not be satisfied if Romney wins the nomination, significant challenges still lie ahead for the former governor.

First and foremost, the findings from last night’s exit polls underscore just how vulnerable Mr. Romney remains with core constituencies that comprise the GOP base– specifically conservatives and Tea Party supporters.

Overall, 41% of Florida primary voters said that Mr. Romney is not conservative enough on the issues, and he trailed the former Speaker among those who self-identify as being very conservative (30%-41%), those who strongly support the Tea Party movement (33%-45%), and Evangelicals (36%-38%).

And while Romney did best among those who said that strong moral character and the ability to beat President Obama are the most important candidate qualities, he trailed Gingrich among those who said that the right experience most important quality (40% - 45%) and among those who said a true conservative was the most important quality by more than 30 points (11%-44%).

Moreover, Mr. Romney does not appear to have sufficiently countered efforts to portray him as systematically focused on the needs of the wealthy and powerful.

The exit poll data shows that while Mr. Romney did best among the wealthiest voters, he is weakest among voters in the lowest income brackets as well as those who said their family is falling behind.

What then does Governor Romney need to do?

The exit poll findings suggest that if this election is going to be a referendum on carried interest and private equity, Mr. Romney will lose in the absence of an explanation – and a better one than anything he has offered to date -- for what he has done at Bain Capital.

Consequently, it will be absolutely necessary for him to speak out against the tax break on carried interest. Carried interest – which refers to the share of profits that partners in private equity firms, hedge funds and real estate developments receive as most of their compensation -- is taxed at the 15 percent capital gains rate rather than at ordinary income rates.

He need not -- and should not -- adopt the Buffet rule as President Obama has and call for a flat 30% tax rate for anyone earning over one million dollars. But he does need some reasonable tax policy -- ideally involving some of the proposals put forth in the Bowles Simpson plan such as taxing capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income, while significantly reducing corporate and personal income tax rates.

Above all, Mr. Romney needs to articulate a positive message for why he should be President if he is going to be as fully competitive as he and his supporters would like him to be come November.

It is simply not enough to say that he supports free markets, lower taxes, and lack of regulation, he needs to put forth some sort of overarching and comprehensive plan. Not a 59 point plan, but a plan to get America moving again.

Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. Schoen, who served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is author of several books including the forthcoming "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond" (Rowman and Littlefield). Follow him on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.

Douglas E. Schoen has served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton and is currently working with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He has more than 30 years experience as a pollster and political consultant. He is also a Fox News contributor and co-host of "Fox News Insiders" Sundays on Fox News Channel and Mondays at 10:30 am ET on FoxNews.com Live. He is the author of ten books including,“Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What it Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield 2012). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.