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Mitt Romney Wins Six Super Tuesday States but Rick Santorum Scores Three Victories and Newt Gingrich Takes Georgia

Posted on the 07 March 2012 by Periscope
Mitt Romney wins six Super Tuesday states but Rick Santorum scores three victories and Newt Gingrich takes Georgia

Rick Santorum: Winning/not winning? Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/6184432968/

In most competitions, winning six out of ten would be considered a victory. Not the Republican presidential nomination race. Establishment favorite Mitt Romney may have come out on top in six of the ten Super Tuesday primaries, but many GOP-watchers suggest this was not a great night for the former Massachusetts governor – and that the nomination is still far from his grasp.

Romney won Vermont, Massachusetts, Idaho, Virginia and Alaska, and beat rival Rick Santorum in a closely-run race in Ohio, considered to be a key state. Social conservative Santorum took Tennessee, North Dakota and Oklahoma, while former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia. Libertarian Ron Paul failed to come out on top in any of the Super Tuesday contests, but did gain a significant proportion of the vote in Vermont and Virginia.

So after a night that proved less than decisive, where does this leave the remaining GOP candidates?

Mitt Romney. “Republicans all over the country, if they have any sense, are going to come out of Super Tuesday even more nervous about Romney than they were,” wrote Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast. Tomasky argued that Romney’s wins were in fact less than impressive: in Virginia, for example, the only other competing GOP candidate was fourth-place Ron Paul, and yet the former Massachusetts governor managed just 51 percent of the vote. Romney may have had a good night in terms of delegates gained, but he is still struggling with image problems, Tomasky said. Writing at Politico, Maggie Haberman agreed that this was a lacklustre night for Romney. Most significantly, Ohio exit polls showed that the frontrunner still can’t win over working-class, evangelical and “very conservative” voters. Romney will probably clinch the nomination in the end, but the Super Tuesday results mean this is likely to be a bloody battle as Santorum hangs tough: “[Romney] continues to be a man in search of a message, a fact that is only highlighted by his rival’s ability to connect in ways he can’t, and Romney will likely be bled by his opponent for at least another 6 weeks,” wrote Haberman. And Timothy Stanley suggested at CNN that winning the GOP contest would only be the start of Romney’s problems: “Even if Mitt does end up winning the nomination, he’ll inherit a divided, shrunken party, one that increasingly feels like it’s on the brink of swapping its policy platform for the Book of Leviticus.”

Rick Santorum. The social conservative did enough on Super Tuesday to stay in the contest, said Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast, particularly given the tight result in Ohio: “The fact that he did this well despite being buried by Romney ads and money in Ohio is a real achievement.” ABC News reported that Santorum was particularly successful with evangelicals and conservatives in Ohio, but didn’t impress working or unmarried women, perhaps because of controversial recent comments on women’s issues. The real thorn in Santorum’s side at the moment isn’t so much Romney as Gingrich. “With Gingrich’s decisive win in Georgia, Santorum emerges from Super Tuesday having to fend off the former House speaker in the race for second place and will be unable to focus exclusively on Romney,” pointed out The Washington Post. What’s more, Santorum is running a “shoestring” campaign financially. According to CBS News, Santorum’s staffers are now looking to the Southern states, with the Alabama and Mississippi primaries on March 13: “Santorum’s communications director Hogan Gidley believes Santorum’s conservative appeal and energy policy, which stresses offshore drilling and domestic oil and gas production, will resonate with voters along the Gulf Coast.”

Newt Gingrich. The former House Speaker won Georgia with 47 percent to second-place Santorum’s 20 percent. But does this really mean Gingrich is back in the race? Gingrich has been focusing on the Southern states, and as Colleen Jenkins pointed out at Reuters, his disappointing finish in Oklahoma and Tennessee doesn’t bode well for this strategy. “The Georgia win was less of a new start for Gingrich than a nice moment of nostalgia among old friends who had turned out to support him, said Emory University political science professor Alan Abramowitz,” reported Jenkins. Maggie Haberman agreed at Politico that Gingrich looks unlikely to make a comeback: “Gingrich has insisted he has a path forward and is making a play in the Southern states. But with his small vote share in every state other than Georgia, it’s harder to see him making a credible claim as the conservative alternative to Romney in the coming weeks.”

Ron Paul. “Ron Paul of Texas had repeatedly said he doesn’t care about winning, only about amassing delegates. But he was eyeing North Dakota as his best chance for a true victory,” said The Washington Post. Unfortunately, Paul lost to Santorum, despite strong campaigning in the state. “It’s a cycle that has repeatedly played out during Paul’s third White House bid — huge crowds show up to Paul events, sparking confident predictions from his campaign team. But then the losses roll in, perhaps because many of the young voters who come to hear Paul don’t show up to vote,” wrote James Hohmann at Politico. Paul may have lost Virginia and Vermont, but did take a considerable proportion of the vote, reported CBS News, and did well with independent voters. And so far, the septuagenarian candidate shows no sign of dropping out of the race.


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