Super Tuesday faded into a so-so Wednesday for all the GOP presidential aspirants. Each of them–Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul–had something to crow about, as well as a few grave concerns.
Romney could boast that he took the most states: Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, Virginia and Vermont. He also tallied the most delegates–depending on who is doing the counting, this could range from 361 to 410.
The runner-up in most states was Santorum, who won in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee. His delegate count is estimated at 110.
Gingrich would say that by winning Georgia he had the state with the most delegates at stake, 76, but his overall count is 80, according to some reports.
Meanwhile, about all Paul can point to with a sense of accomplishment is that he ran a strong second to Romney in Virginia, garnering 41 percent of the vote. He has around two dozen delegates. Paul did well in Virginia because neither Santorum nor Gingrich collected the 10,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot.
None of the candidates are anywhere near the 1,144 delegates necessary to win the nomination, but Romney probably crowed the loudest with his victory over Santorum in the critical swing state of Ohio.
“We’re doing some counting,” Romney said from his home state of Massachusetts after narrowly carrying the Buckeye State. “We’re counting up the delegates and it looks good, and we’re counting down the days to November and that looks even better.”
What Romney can really count on is that his campaign is being pushed to the ultimate, and the race may drag on well into the summer.
Both Santorum and Gingrich have promised to stay in the race all the way to Tampa and the convention. Whether Paul has the money–he clearly has the moxie–to remain is debatable.
“We’re going to win a few…and lose a few,” Santorum said from Ohio, where he ran nip and tuck with Romney until the tally came in from the richer counties. “We have won in the West, the Midwest and the South, and we’re ready to win across this country.”
Santorum will probably do well in the South, particularly in states like Mississippi and Alabama, where social and cultural conservatives are based, though Gingrich will give him a run for the money–and the delegates.
It remains puzzling–but maybe not so puzzling–why Romney hasn’t run the table and pushed aside his underfinanced opponents. His failure to corral evangelicals and blue-collar workers is perhaps one reason. Even so, Romney is the front runner and his war chest is comparatively in better shape than the others, and beyond the super PACs is his powerful bank account.
Anyway, it’s on to Kansas for a Saturday primary, and on March 13 the candidates will go to the mat–make that the Mitt–in Alabama and Mississippi.
Gingrich may exhale again.