Joe Bono writes from Washington:
Now that the votes have been tallied in one of the most publicized “Super Tuesday” primaries I’ve ever witnessed all that’s left to do is scrutinize the results and embrace the inevitable: Mitt Romney will be the GOP’s nominee for President of the United States.
By this time in 2008 John McCain had recieved enough delegates to secure himself a spot as his party’s nominee. So why, after wins in key states like Ohio and Virginia, is Romney still struggling to do the same? The answer is simple – Because the people love a horserace (and because the press is more than happy to give them one).
Super Tuesday is a focal point of every primary election. Traditionally as many as ten states (sometimes more) send the electorate to the polls on this day in early March. The collective delegate count (those designated to support a candidate in the summertime convention) is higher than any other single day of the primary season. In addition, battleground states indicate the strength of a candidate against the incumbent opposition (in this case President Barack Obama).
A few highlights from yesterday’s results are worth mentioning. First, the Ohio results put Romney 12,000 votes ahead of Santorum, giving him the win. The Santorum camp would argue that this is barely a solid victory but considering it was a four-way race with less than a million votes cast I’d say it’s significant enough. Second is Romney’s 72% turnout in Massachusetts (the former governor’s other home state). This could put Mass. into the coveted “swing state” category for the general election thus threatening an overall win for Obama. Third (that which I found most surprising) is Mitt’s 31% victory in Alaska over second place finisher Ron Paul (25%). Alaska is considered America’s “Northern most Southern state”, where state’s rights authority and big government opposition is sacrosanct. If Romney can convince Alaskans that he’s their candidate then the rest of the country should be a snap.
The criticism I generally hold for the GOP through these exercises is that they inevitably tend to choose the candidate which they think “deserve” it. A candidate who’s exhibited steadfast support for the party as a whole tends to be given a chance over the one who can actually pull off a win (see: McCain ‘08, Dole ‘96 & G.H.W. Bush ’92). There have been few exceptions to this rule where the “deserving” candidate actually ends up in the White House (Nixon ’68 & Reagan ’80). There is another rule to Republican politics concerning their candidate, though. You don’t need to fall in love but you will fall in line.
Romney’s campaign has proven itself to be better organized, better funded and better positioned to win in November than any of the other three. Come Tampa we’ll see him accept his party’s nomination and the rest of this horserace will be but a distant memory.