Mitt Romney is still in the lead for the Republican nomination to challenge President Obama in the presidential elections this November, winning 5 out of 10 states of the Super Tuesday primaries. The results were hardly a surprise, with Mr. Romney reigning triumphant in Massachusetts, Virginia, Vermont, Idaho and Ohio. However, his victory in Ohio, considered to be the grand prize among the 10 states, was dangerously slim. Despite outspending Rick Sanctorum by a wide margin, Mr. Romney led Mr. Santorum only by 38% to 37% in the primary.
Mr. Santorum himself cinched victories in three states – Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota, showing his strength among conservatives and religious voters. He is still considered as the most viable alternative to Mr. Romney. Newt Gingrich, as largely expected, won the Georgia caucuses, the state which sent him to Congress. The win came as a morale boost to his party, as Mr. Gingrich had previously not won a nomination contest since South Carolina at the beginning of the year. Texas representative Ron Paul won none, to little surprise, and analysts say that his running is turning out to be more of a crusade rather than a campaign.
CNN has estimated that Mr. Romney has thus far accumulated 359 delegates, with Mr. Santorum following behind at 138 delegates, Mr. Gingrich with 93 and Mr. Paul with 60. The winning GOP candidate needs 1144 delegates to clinch the Republican nomination.
While Mr. Romney is clearly leading the Republican race, his loss of two major Southern states has pointed out his weaknesses with conservative voters and evangelicals who may be uncomfortable with his Mormon faith. His difficulties in Ohio, as well, are likely to further doubts about his appeal to blue-collar Republicans.
Both Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum focused on President Obama in their speeches, although Mr. Romney had no qualms about pointing out that “unlike President Obama”, he actually has “the experience to deliver” on the promise of getting the US’s economy back on track. Mr. Santorum, in addition, targeted Mr. Romney for supporting a health care mandate in Massachusetts and recommending his state’s plan as a national model.
The next big phase will come when the campaign moves on to the conservative states of Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama in the upcoming week, where many believe that Mr. Romney will face an uphill battle.
Report: Romney wins 5 states, including Ohio; Santorum takes 3; Gingrich nabs Georgia[CNN, 7 March 2012]
Report: Super Tuesday ensures a GOP war of attrition [Wall Street Journal, 7 March 2012]
Report: Romney wins Ohio but fails to shake off rivals [Reuters, 7 March 2012]