Super Tuesday reveals a winner, but hardly any losers in the Republican results, which means there are three men ready to put up a fight in this contest.
The results from yesterday’s Super Tuesday contests broke the mold. With a dramatic victory in Ohio, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney graduated from the primaries to the general election. The question is no longer if his opponents will concede but when.
Congratulating Romney would be a classy start. The absence of congratulations in this year’s primary night speeches has been an unbecoming though understandable aspect of a campaign where victories failed to produce momentum. Romney’s principal opponents calculated that congratulating him would only make his victories appear larger even though poor sportsmanship always makes losers appear smaller.
When Romney swept to victory in Florida in late January, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich could still point to his own impressive victory in South Carolina ten days before. Similarly, when Romney won Michigan at the end of February, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum could still hold out hope that his earlier victories in the heartland foreshadowed success in last night’s most important contest — Ohio.
Romney’s come-from-behind win in the Buckeye State dashed that hope. In addition to claiming the biggest state of the night, Romney won the most states by notching victories in Idaho, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia. He also logged impressive second-place finishes padding his lead in the only tally that will matter come the Republican convention — the delegate count.
It is true that Romney triumphed in part because of his superior organization and financing, but the strength of a campaign speaks to the strength of its chief executive. While his rivals had to choose their spots on the map, Romney proved he could compete anywhere on it. If campaigns were Monopoly — a metaphor that the Romney campaign should avoid at all costs — it would be fair to say that one player has built up so many properties that the other players will have an almost impossible time catching up.
This is not to say, of course, that Gingrich and Santorum will not score more victories in the months ahead. Indeed, if not for the loss in Ohio, Santorum would have almost certainly emerged from Super Tuesday with the best headlines after adding North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee to his column. But the bellwether state of Ohio has now rung, and no one can miss its message.