Analysis on the GOP’s leading candidates and the results of Super Tuesday’s vote.
The results of Super Tuesday left the Republican presidential primaries right where they started, undecided, drawn-out, and divided. Super Tuesday was one of the most important and highly anticipated events of the primaries. Ten states cast their votes, amounting to 20% of the delegates needed to seal the Republican nomination for the general election in November.
Although Mr. Romney was able to add to his delegate count by claiming victories (some by small margins) in Idaho, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Alaska, and Ohio, he still failed to emerge as the major candidate to challenge President Obama in November. Former Pennsylvanian Senator Rick Santorum continued to make his case as a general election candidate by winning the states of North Dakota, Tennessee, and Oklahoma, fairing particularly well with social conservatives. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich also won the state of Georgia which had 76 delegates to offer, proving that the primaries are far from over.
The hotly contested state of Ohio whose middle income, middle class Republican voters are considered a swing group for Republicans this year offered a strong test for the candidates. Mr. Romney claimed 38% of the vote and Mr. Santorum 37%. Clearly the Romney camp had hoped for a more decisive outcome, but the mere percentage point difference in Ohio points to the larger overall issue of the nomination race. Well into the primary season, the Republican Party is still divided and faces the possibility of continuing the nomination race till June.
Super Tuesday, which has often been a litmus test of candidates’ general electability come November, has failed to be a “game changer” for the Republicans. In fact very little has changed as a result of Tuesday. Mr. Romney was able to increase his current delegate lead, while Mr. Santorum and Mr. Gingrich are still trying to establish themselves as viable alternatives to Mr. Romney. Perhaps the most interesting insight into the primary race that was demonstrated on Super Tuesday is the divides within the Republican Party and the inability to enthusiastically rally behind one candidate.
Mr. Romney, who has been using his reputation as a successful businessman with the “know-how” to fix the economy, has still been unable to convince Republicans that he whole-heartedly shares their moral convictions and conservative values. Mr. Santorum, who appears to be a favorite of social conservatives and has taken strong stances on issues such as abortion, contraception use, gay marriage etc., has yet to prove his electability in comparison to Mr. Romney. Mr. Gingrich, who managed to survive the controversy surrounding his previous marriages, has all but dropped out of the media circuit and has yet to show that he can appeal to voters beyond his southern home base.
As the candidates desperately try to distance themselves from each other, Super Tuesday has shown they will have to pay more attention to the average middle income American. Despite Mr. Romney’s years of business experience which may prove as a strength come election time, he has yet to neutralize his wealthy background and level with the average American. As mentioned in the New York Times, voter surveys done on Tuesday showed that in comparison to Mr. Romney voters feel that Mr. Santorum understands their daily problems better. On this tone Mr. Santorum should have done slightly better than Mr. Romney considering his appeal to blue collar workers and Evangelicals in Ohio.
However, Mr. Romney prevailed, which suggests that despite the lack of enthusiasm that has surrounded his candidacy, he may be the Republican’s best candidate for the general election. Furthermore, it will take quite an upset in the coming contests for the other candidates to close in on Mr. Romney’s delegate lead and compete with the general feeling that Mr. Romney would be a substantial challenge to the president in November. And getting the president out of the White House is one cause the divided Republican Party seems to be united on.
So now that Super Tuesday has gone and passed without a clear front-runner for the nomination, attention shifts to Tuesday, March 13th , and the following contests where there are still a number of delegates up for grabs.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.