While Santorum Performed Credibly, Super Tuesday Helped Romney
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, yesterday's Super Tuesday in the Republican Party was not the beginning of the end, but may have served as the end of the beginning.
Governor Mitt Romney has built up a cushion in the delegate count and unless his opponents can defeat him decisively in future primaries to deny him a steady accumulation of convention delegates, he should be able to go over the top.
Romney did not manage to end the nomination contest and reduce opponents' campaign to exercises in futility, because he still has not managed to win on his opponents' home court.
While Romney is strong in the West, in other areas of the country he is essentially strong in blue democratic states or competitive purple states. His support is softer in rockribbed Republican red states (who would presumably back him against Obama in any case). One could see this phenomenon in play within the states. In the crucial Ohio primary that Romney took by a whisker, he was strong in Cleveland's Cuyahoga County and around Toledo, but was weaker in Ohio's rural areas.
As expected, former Speaker Newt Gingrich took Georgia, the state that he represented for years. Although he currently lives in Virginia, Georgia must be regarded as his home state and he had the support of the Republican Party organization.
Gingrich's problem is his inability to win in states that are not considered part of the Deep South. A particular disappointment must have been the loss to Rick Santorum in Tennessee and Oklahoma. These are conservative states that Gingrich has to pick up to be a serious candidate and not merely a spoiler. Outside the South, we find Gingrich running either 3rd or 4th. Gingrich has yet to prove that he is more than a sectional candidate or that he has a lock on his own section.
The Romney campaign likes to crow that it is the only national campaign and has even captured the southern states of Florida and Virginia. However, Florida is not a typical southern state and in Virginia, Mitt Romney only had to face Ron Paul, as Gingrich and Santorum were off the ballots.
Super Tuesday was a mixed bag for Rick Santorum. He won 3 states and his victories in Tennessee and Oklahoma reinforced the case that he is a better placed anti-Romney candidate than Newt Gingrich. His problem is that Gingrich believes otherwise so that the anti-Romney vote will continue to be splintered.
Santorum has now blown big leads in crucial states two weeks in succession. He let Romney off the ropes in Michigan last week and he failed to land a finishing punch in Ohio on Super Tuesday.
One of the major ironies emerging from the exit polls is that Santorum, a devout Catholic, is handily carrying the evangelicals, but trails Romney among Catholics, and particularly among women.
Santorum did well enough to justify staying in the race and stimulate campaign contributions, but he will have to complete some long touchdown passes to prevent Mitt Romney from running out the clock.
While Barack Obama is unopposed in the Democratic Party, primary fights are taking place for other offices. The most bitter ones involve incumbent representatives who must compete with each other as a result of redistricting.
One of the most virulent anti-Israel Congressmen, representative Dennis J Kucinich of Ohio, has been ousted by Representative Marcy Kaptur. Kucinich has assailed military assistance to Israel on the grounds that American weapons kill Palestinian children. He urged that Israel be punished by sanctions after the flotilla. He also visited Syria and Iran and had warm things to say about his hosts. The Syrian news agency quoted him as saying that president Assad was leading “towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this. President al-Assad is highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians.”
When this quote came back to haunt him during the campaign, Kucinich claimed to have been misquoted.