Don Roach: Super Tuesday, The Day of Reckoning?
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
In case you missed it, yesterday was Super Tuesday. The Republicans held primaries in ten states across the country from Alaska to Georgia to Oklahoma to Massachusetts in our own back yard. Over the last several weeks it’s been a back and forth affair between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum with Romney continuing to look strong. As I’m writing this, they’re calling three states for Romney – Massachusetts, Idaho, and Vermont. Santorum has also won three states – Tennessee, Oklahoma, and North Dakota.
Ohio – A key state again
The battleground state is Ohio, which comes as no surprise. Ohio and Florida are the two coveted swing states in every recent presidential election that I can recall & as of this writing, Romney has just taken a slight lead over Santorum. A win here for Romney is huge and shows that his appeal to moderate Republicans and moderates in general is significant. In terms of electability, I do believe Romney is probably the most electable of the remaining Republican candidates.
One, he’s polished. He can hold his own in a debate, while not necessarily being able to summon the types of performances that catapulted Gingrich in the early going. No matter, it’s not necessary for Romney to be one the great debaters in order to win.
Two, he’s a moderate. I don’t care how many people who want to tell me that Mitt Romney is a conservative, dude is a moderate. Vernacular aside, Romney is left of Santorum by a significant margin and relative to the conservative candidate from 2008 – Mike Huckabee – Romney might actually be more like our current president. While that doesn’t make me go wild for Romney, it makes him a tough opponent for Obama. Obama is going to have a difficult time this year period, but Romney presents the challenge of being able to attack Obama’s base.
Three, he’s going to be able to hang with Obama on the fundraising side of things and is sufficiently wealthy to also loan his campaign funds if necessary. Thus, he’ll be able to get his message out effectively and we’ve seen that whenever one of his opponents rises up, he beats them down…with the exception of Santorum.
Santorum has a problem
While Santorum has been able to dodge most of the Romney bullets thus far, he hasn’t been able to siphon enough of Romney’s moderate support to overtake him as the leading candidate. Further, so long as Newt Gingrich remains in the race, Romney will continue to surge because the people who are voting for Gingrich would by and large turn to Santorum if Gingrich were to drop out. Indeed, after the races yesterday the Santorum team needs to reach out to Gingrich and ask him to step aside so that the nominee isn’t Romney. If Gingrich refuses, it’s likely Romney will have enough support to win enough delegates to secure the nomination.
Thus, Santorum has a problem and in the coming days his success/failure heavily depends on how he deals with Gingrich and/or is able to persuade Gingrich to drop out.
Gingrich too polarizing
I predicted a few months ago Gingrich would win the nomination and then go onto the presidency. Looks like I have egg on my face and Gingrich won Georgia yesterday, but is running a distant third in the major states by a very large margin. Back then, I believed that Gingrich’s political savvy and moderated tone would appeal to voters. But his acerbic style and penchant to gaffe have continued to plague his campaign.
Thus, I was wrong. Not the first or last time that has happened but, it does seem that the nation has settled on Santorum as the alternative to Romney. However, Romney is still plugging along picking up more wins than his opponents and that’s never a bad thing.
Giving my prediction skillz (or lack thereof) take what I say with a lump of salt. I do believe in the next few days the Santorum team reaches out to Gingrich. I suspect a major Santorum backer does the same. I also fully expect for Romney to start to change his tone to that of ‘presumptive’ candidate while attacking Obama versus his fellow Republicans. The wildcard is Gingrich, what will he do? My head says he’ll bow out, but my gut says he’ll never bow out until the bitter end – and the end will be bitter. Either way, Super Tuesday leaves the Republican nomination process still unsettled and more questions than answers.
So much for the day of reckoning.
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