You all know what happened, but to sum up quickly….
Gingrich won Georgia as expected.
Santorum won Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota (largely as expected).
Romney won Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Ohio, Idaho, and Alaska. That’s mostly as expected, though the big news is that he stole Ohio from Santorum.
As of this morning, CNN, projects that Romney has 404 delegates with Santorum at 168 I believe. You need 1,144 to capture the nomination. To put it another way, Romney has basically 2.5 times more delegates than his closest competitor and more than all the other candidates combined.
And yet the ONLY thing I seem to be seeing on the news is how Romney can’t close the deal. How Romney has significant problems. How Romney just can’t win big.
Uh…. Having more than 2.5 times the delegates than your next opponent is winning big. Itis closing the deal. And problems? What… Because Romney isn’t the be-all, end-all candidate for every person he has problems?
Look, not even Obama captured the entire DEM vote. Not even Reagan captured the entire GOP vote. At the end of the day, if you’re going to complain about a candidate not capturing the entire vote, you’re just not politically mature enough to recognize that people have differing opinions. Sorry to be so blunt, but there you go.
On to the primaries themselves.
There are a few big story lines coming out of Super Tuesday. In no particular order….
Ron Paul fails to capture a single state. This is less-big, but still pretty big. Paul is the only candidate still in the game who has not captured a state. Yes, he is winning delegates, but not enough to seriously impact the race going forward. For him to be eligible for anything at the Convention, he needs to pick up at least five states. He’s running out of time.
Should Paul drop out, which he legitimately should at this point (sad to say), I don’t know that his supporters necessarily change the dynamic of the race. I think many would move to Romney, but I could also see many just sitting out entirely.
Gingrich only wins Georgia. Another less-big headline, but important nonetheless. Gingrich was putting all his eggs in Georgia, and the other candidates let him have it. He did not, however, cross the critical 50% line of the vote in Georgia, which will cost him some delegates. At the same time, he missed his true opportunity by failing to pick up Tennessee. Had Gingrich pulled Georgia and Tennessee, this would be a much different conversation this morning. In fact, it would have probably been the conversation this morning. As it is, Gingrich is done. He knows it, but I wonder if his ego will let him step down.
Should Gingrich step down, it is likely that his supporters will move to Santorum. I seriously doubt that many will move to Romney. And should those supporters move to Santorum, it’ll put him and Romney on a much more even footing. The race is maturing now to the point that Santorum needs to make a move. There’s still plenty of time to play catch up, but Santorum would have to win and win big from here on out. Gingrich dropping out would likely give Santorum the strength to do just that.
Santorum lost Ohio but slaughtered Romney in Tennessee. I came out of Super Tuesday with two surprises. First, that Romney lost Oklahoma. I wasn’t following too closely, but I assumed the race to be closer. The second was the drumming Romney took in Tennessee. This ends up being possibly the second biggest story out of Super Tuesday.
Tennessee, despite my rant at the beginning, does point to broader issues Romney has with the deeply conservative right. Some call this the base of the party (I disagree–It’s a base and a voting bloc, but it isnot the only base in the party.). While I don’t expect a candidate to attract everyone, I do hope that the eventual candidate can attract the majority. This lose by Romney points to some serious issues he has with this particular voting bloc.
But unlike the media, I recognize that while this group has issues with Romney, they are not going to go swarming over to Obama come general election time. This group will come in behind the nominee (whoever that is) because the dynamic changes. Right now, they have a choice in their nominee, and they vote accordingly. Come general election, the choice is made, and it is NOT Obama. They are the anti-Obama vote.
In other words, unless Santorum has his big push from Gingrich stepping down, I doubt that this matters much in the end.
Romney pulled off Ohio. Romney wasn’t winning here as recently as last week. In fact, he was down by a lot. But much like Florida, Romney quickly turned the state around to a victory. Santorum will, of course, claim that it was very close (and it was), but Romney won. Add in that Santorum didn’t even field a full slate of potential delegates, and Ohio is going to turn into a much bigger win for Romney.
Winner-take-all states. This is two-pronged, and it’s the biggest story. First–Because of the complex voting rules in many Super Tuesday states, some of these wins for Romney will end up winner-take-all despite the state being proportional. Many of these states have rules that allow for a winner-take-all scenario if a candidate meets certain criteria, such as winning over 50% of the vote while capturing all of the congressional districts. Romney managed to do quite well in several states, particularly Idaho and Massachusetts, and it would not surprise me to see him get quite close to winner-take-all there. I haven’t looked at actual results by county, so I don’t know if he did or not.
Second–We are moving out of the proportional delegate states. The early states award delegates proportionally, roughly meaning that if you get 50% of the vote, you get 50% of the delegates. It’s not exactly that, but it’s close. The next phase of the primary season moves into winner-take-all. Simply winning the popular vote gets you every delegate. This is where we’ll start to see candidates really take off. For example, should Santorum win Texas, he’ll largely erase the deficit between him and Romney with one state even if Romney only loses by a single vote. California in June is an even bigger prize.
The point is that we just left the kiddies table and we’re now playing on the big kid table. It’s not enough to take second anymore. This is both a huge opportunity for Santorum and Romney. Win now, and you’ll get the nomination.
For Paul and Gingrich? Sorry… Your race is done.