The bruising battle for the GOP presidential nomination continues and front-runner Mitt Romney just can’t seem to seal the deal. He managed to eke out a win in Ohio 38% to Rick Santorum’s 37%, but it wasn’t a convincing one. He and the other three candidates are very weak and Republican and Independent voters know that. So, after Super Tuesday, the odds of a brokered Republican convention seem to be a real possibility.
New York Times: Mitt Romney won the delegates, but not necessarily the argument.
His quest to win the Republican presidential nomination has always resembled a detailed, methodical business plan. Mr. Romney, who spent much of his life fixing troubled corporations, must now decide whether steps are necessary to repair his lethargic candidacy.
Mr. Romney had hoped that a string of Super Tuesday victories in contests from Vermont to Alaska would effectively bring the Republican race to a close. But he found himself winning over Rick Santorum by only the slimmest of margins with almost all the votes counted in Ohio, the most coveted primary of the night, while losing other contests across the South.
But the campaign is suddenly bracing for new questions about Mr. Romney’s ability to piece together a coalition needed to move closer to a general election fight with President Obama.
The heart of his case to his fellow Republicans has always been that he is not only the most electable candidate in the field, but also the best prepared and most suited for what is sure to be a brutal general election.
But the outcome of the contests on Tuesday, while allowing him to amass more delegates than any of his rivals, did little to resolve the questions about his ability to connect with voters, especially conservatives.
Shouldn’t there have been a shift in the campaign at this juncture? Surely Mitt Romney should realize that he is in more trouble than he cares to admit. The American voter is fickle on his candidacy. If wingnut like Rick Santorum can become such a threat to the so-called “most likely candidate to beat Obama,” it follows that the Republican Party will most likely hand the Democrats four more years in the White House.
Rick Santorum was able to win Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota, while Romney carried Ohio (barely), Massachusetts, Idaho, Vermont and Virginia, three of which are heavily Democratic states. His decisive wins aren’t in battleground states or even states that are more conservative and more religious. He seems to have a real problem connecting with blue collar workers. Well, if you want to do that, you don’t set up your campaign headquarters in the affluent Buckhead area of Atlanta, for example. If you ask me, Rick Santorum was the big winner last night, with his poorly run campaign. That speaks volumes.
First Read: “The answer to that question continues to come down to ideology. According to the exit polls in Ohio, Santorum easily won among very conservatives (48%-30%) and overall conservatives (41%-35%), while Romney won the other ideological subgroups (somewhat conservatives, moderates/liberals). Santorum won Tea Party supporters (39%-36%), while Romney won Tea Party detractors (45%-30%). And Santorum ran up the score with evangelicals (47%-30%). Given that kind of very conservative resistance we’ve seen in other contests — Iowa, South Carolina, Michigan, and Ohio — it’s a tribute to Romney that he remains on track to winning the GOP presidential nomination. But it also explains why he’s unable to pull away from his under-funded and less-organized opposition.”