Analysis and reaction to Super Tuesday results
Newt Gingrich wins in Georgia. Last week, Gingrich admitted he had to win his home state to stay in the race.
Mitt Romney wins in Alaska, Massachusetts, Ohio, Virginia, Vermont and Idaho.
Rick Santorum wins in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota.
“Nomination battles often strengthen the winner, but some take a toll. Rarely is there a straight line between March and November that predicts the outcome of a general election. Still, Romney is in worse shape at this point in the campaign than virtually all recent previous nominees.”
“The victory in the most coveted Super Tuesday contest was the story ofdisaster narrowly averted. Santorum could tell a story of defying the odds and marvel at how far he’d come. He won three of the 10 races–with victories in Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Tennessee–and nearly claimed the big prize with a campaign operation held together by bailing wire and sturdy boards found at the roadside. The Republican presidential campaign is now a battle between a movement and mathematics.”
John Fund understates:
Given his crushing financial advantage, Romney should have done better.
“Make no mistake, Rick Santorum had a SUPER Tuesday night. … If you look in to the exit poll here, you see that Mitt Romney did not expand his coalition of support, whether it’s lower-income voters, whether it’s evangelical voters, extremely conservative voters, tea party voters. … Santorum has every reason to keep going, every reason to believe that he’s building momentum as he makes the argument against Romney. … There’s a lot for Mitt Romney to be concerned about.”
“1. Win, no bounce, repeat … Romney … is likely heading into another bounce-free news cycle. [His] campaign and its backers had hoped to use a strong night to start making the case that it’s time to wind this down, and his election night speech, delivered from Boston, was supposed to convey the aura of a nominee-in-waiting. But in the end, he underperformed. … 2. It’s time for Santorum to throw elbows at Newt Gingrich … 3. Newt doesn’t seem ready to leave … 4. Ron Paul’s time on stage is running short … 5. Everyone now benefits equally from super PACs.”
“Romney of course remains the clear favorite. But the schedule over the next few weeks does him few favors. There are 14 primaries and caucuses in the next month, including Kansas on March 10, Alabama, Hawaii, and Mississippi on March 13, Missouri on March 17, Illinois on March 20, Louisiana on March 24, and Maryland and Wisconsin on April 3. Rick Santorum will probably hold his own-maybe more than hold his own-against Romney in these contests. (Furthermore, if Santorum can win Alabama and Mississippi next week, Gingrich may either get out or become fairly irrelevant, which would presumably help Santorum.) Then there are three weeks off in April, so the get-the-race-over-crowd will have lots of free time to stew and gnash until the Northeast weighs in big on April 24, with Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Which, however, probably won’t provide an unambiguous verdict either. So then we’ll be on to the merry month of May. Fun!”
“The outcome raised fresh doubts about Romney’s ability to win in the South, with Santorum’s Tennessee triumph fueled by evangelical voters. And in a more fundamental sense, the stylistic contrast between the two made Romney seem scripted and Santorum scrappy.”
“In a sketch last weekend following Mitt Romney’s win in Michigan, ‘Saturday Night Live,’ had its Romney character boast that it was another instance of voters saying of him, ‘Eh, I guess.’ ‘Eh, I guess’ looks to be the motto he’ll have to try to ride to the nomination. It was an ‘eh’ night for Romney, although he avoided catastrophe by pulling out a razor-thin win in Ohio where he was trailing most of the night…Rarely has a candidate seemed so inevitable and so weak at the same time.”
“What worries Republicans is that the cost of the extended primary season isn’t just financial, but also … in the impact of the beating Romney is taking … plunging poll numbers with independent voters and a focus on issues that won’t help the party recapture the White House. … Santorum strategist John Brabender, talking to reporters Tuesday, suggested that they’d be hard-pressed to catch Romney if Gingrich doesn’t drop out. ‘I think the real key right now is: Can we get an opportunity to get a one-on-one shot with Mitt Romney?’”
“Mitt Romney appeared to pull off a narrow victory in Ohio on Super Tuesday but lost several other states to Rick Santorum, a split verdict that overshadowed Mr. Romney’s claim of collecting the most delegates and all but ensured another round of intense infighting on the road to the Republican presidential nomination. The result came at the end of a long night that put Mr. Romney that much farther ahead in the race for the nomination, but dashed any hopes he had of using the day to assert himself as the inevitable nominee.”
“Mitt Romney’s weaknesses show no sign of going away. He struggles in the South and with evangelical voters. He’s not conservative enough. He loses among rural voters and with voters down the economic scale. All of his flaws were on full display Tuesday as he failed to wrap up the GOP nomination on an evening when it was within his grasp.”
“While satisfying in one sense, the reality of the ‘expected’ means that the race goes on. There are no upsets because the GOP base is still not ready to let go of the battle. It is obvious to almost every observer that Mitt Romney is likely to be the Republican nominee for president. But could it be that Republican activists want Romney put through his paces week after week, if only to drum into him the conservative principles they suspect he does not fully embrace?”
Santorum won three states and basically tied in Ohio. That keeps him afloat with some forward direction, especially given the upcoming primary states where Santorum has a demographic edge. The fact that he did this well despite being buried by Romney ads and money in Ohio is a real achievement. Romney, for his part, still cannot win blue-collar votes and still cannot nail down evangelical support. He comes away with many more delegates, but few bragging rights. In Ohio, he won everywhere Obama will win in the fall.
“Mitt Romney eked out a narrow win in Ohio and extended his delegate lead on Super Tuesday, but voters failed to deliver a decisive victory that could have brought a swift end to the Republican nominating contest.”