A few weeks ago, it seemed like it could have been a different storyline playing out today on Super Tuesday. Mitt Romney had struggled to connect with voters in his home state of Michigan and was having a much harder time than he expected in Arizona. Rick Santorum was on the move, and Romney seemed to have lost his mojo.
But after a few big wins and key endorsements (from the likes of Tom Coburn and Eric Cantor, no less), Romney will go into Super Tuesday the frontrunner, expected to benefit the most from the contest. This also means that he has the most to lose if he doesn’t come up big – the bar is set much higher for him than the other candidates. Let’s look at how he stands in some of the big contests for tomorrow:
Romney needs to do well in Ohio, a major swing state in the general election. A recent CNN poll found him tied with Rick Santorum. Santorum, however, was leading the pack by double digits earlier in the month, so Romney’s last-minute surge will likely propel him over the top to a narrow victory. Romney will also pick up delegates in Georgia, where he’s tied for second with Santorum (Gingrich is leading in his home state by a wide margin). But Romney’s biggest prize is one that was essentially handed to him.
In the state of Virginia, only Romney and Ron Paul appear on the ballot. The other candidates failed to turn in the necessary paperwork to get their names on the ticket. This means that Romney will essentially get a free state, as Paul is unlikely to win a state for a very long time. Gingrich especially would have liked to get in the race in Virginia, because he polls well in the South and could have been competitive in that contest as well, trying to wrap up much-needed delegates and gain momentum.
So look for Romney to do well in Virginia. If he captures a large margin of the vote there and wins Ohio and maybe (a big maybe) Tennessee, Super Tuesday will clarify the race to show Romney as the clear favorite. He should win enough delegates in the other contests to further pad his lead, and may begin to look uncatchable – though the possibility of him getting less than the 1,144 delegates required means that a brokered convention could still be an outcome in the battle to replace Barack Obama.
This Super Tuesday, follow @DYNAMO_politics on twitter for live updates on key contests and outcomes – don’t be in the dark, be in the know!