Super Tuesday: Romney on Top, Still No Done Deal

Mittt Romney appeared to pull off a narrow victory in Ohio on Super Tuesday but lost several other states to Rick Santorum, a split verdict that overshadowed Mr. Romney’s claim of collecting the most delegates and all but ensured another round of intense infighting on the road to the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney eked out an Ohio win by one point and lost the other states to an under-resourced campaign -- one that had to split votes with Newt Gingrich and even Ron Paul in Ohio. Worse, both Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman received thousands of votes in Ohio, demonstrating how much resistance there is to Mitt winning the Republican nomination.

Governor Romney came closer to an absolute disaster than he did to a win, which is likely driving a narrative more unfavorable to Romney than a superficial glance might suggest. He did win Ohio, after all, Romney supporters will retort.

Romney was trounced by Gingrich in Georgia, Newt's home state, 47.4% to 25.7%. While that alone might not be enough to fuel concerns about Romney's popularity in the South, his 37.3% to 28% loss to Santorum in Tennessee lends significant weight to that argument. A third place finish behind Ron Paul in North Dakota, which Santorum won handily, doesn't fit the bill of a strong front-runner, either. Full results are available here via Real Clear Politics.

The best thing Romney has going for him right now is not money in the bank, or a strong message, or campaign, it's that Gingrich and Santorum will likely continue to split the vote, potentially allowing Romney to amass enough delegates late to secure the nomination. It's quite possible that in a one-on-one race against either Newt, or Rick, he'd be pulling out somewhere down the line.

Paul came away with 40% of the vote in Virginia, with only him and Mitt Romney on the ballot. That's a big number to throw up against Mitt in what isn't exactly a truly reliable red state.

The keyword for Romney coming off Super Tuesday is disappointment, despite his financial and organizational advantages and presumed electability. His saving grace is that there seems to be more than enough of that to go around among all the candidates in this corner of the Republican Party.

Finally, campaign life isn't exactly expected to get better for Mitt Romney any time, soon. With Kansas coming up on March 10, Alabama and Mississippi, along with Hawaii, ahead on March 13, then Missouri on the 17th, before Illinois on the 20th, the headlines soon to come may not be overly kind to Mitt coming off his less than stellar Super Tuesday performance.

Mitt Romney may still make it across the 2012 GOP primary finish line in first place, eventually. But if he does, it'll most likely be with a limp and not in the sprint he would have preferred.

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