Romney Picks Up Steam Heading Into Super Tuesday

The ten states holding primary votes tomorrow won't decide the presidential race in any satisfying way, but the results might be the signal that the Republican party is on a course to Mitt Romney that can no longer be altered. Every primary so far has threatened to be the one that "changes everything," but Super Tuesday's vote may be the one to finally show that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum aren't going to be able to change anything. 

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Most of the contests appear to walkovers: Massachusetts and Virginia for Romney; Oklahoma and Tennessee for Santorum; Georgia to Newt Gingrich. There was literally no polling done in North Dakota, Alaska, Idaho and Vermont, so anyone could surprise there, but the total delegates from all those states are pretty low. Educated guesses say Vermont, which is in his backyard,and Idaho, which is heavily Mormon, would go for Romney.

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That leaves only Ohio as the one state that is a) too close to call and b) big enough to make an impact on the nationwide race. However, like its neighbor Michigan, a "victory" there likely means a even split of the delegate count. (And Super Tuesday as a whole will likely mirror that.) Also like Michigan, Santorum had a sizeable lead just a few weeks — or even days — ago, but he has seen his edge shrink inside the margin error. If you believe the conventional wisdom that the ongoing birth control debate has hurt the Republican Party, then it also stands to reason that the candidate most associated with it, would be hurt as well. There's also the simpler explanation that befallen all previous front-runners: spotlight syndrome. Mainstream voters finally got a good look at him, and didn't like what they see. 

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But the main storyline for this week seems to be the acceptance among major Republicans that they've flirted with Santorum long enough and paid the appropriate respect to his supporters and their beliefs. However, now it's time to get serious about winning in November and that means lining up behind Mitt Romney. As has been pointed out many times, he's going to have trouble securing the nomination through math alone, but the writing is on the wall that the party is going with Mitt and everyone else better get on board with that.

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Romney may not be able to clinch tomorrow, but the flip side to that is that no one else can catch up. Small leads start to look like blowouts when the clock starts running out.