This GOP primary season has becoming a variant on the Wizard of Oz; Romney lacks a Soul, Santorum has too big a Heart, Gingrich has too large an Ego and Paul lacks a Prayer.
Romney’s victories in six out of ten states last night signified a triumph of money and organisation over ideology and passion. Romney simply had more money and a better ground team to organise victory in the states he had to win, as well as in states that he could have afforded to lose and yet won anyway, such as Alaska. Despite his victories Romney is singularly failing to win the hearts and minds of voters. His will therefore be an autocratic victory at best, lacking in Soul. He will be the nominee but no one will ever love him.
In contrast, Rick Santorum is loved by his supporters, but he can’t organise them sufficiently. He was ahead in several key states that he eventually lost last night. This is the weakness in his entire campaign: Sanatorium appears to have the heart of the voters but this is insufficient to win the nomination. His story is the opposite of Romney; all heart and passion but lacking the funds and organisation to secure the nomination.
Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia, which was no more of a surprise than Massachusetts voting heavily for its former governor, Mitt Romney. The dilemma for Gingrich is what to do now? His Nixon-inspired Southern strategy has failed to deliver him the much-needed victories he needed to offset the heavy defeats he suffered in the North, East and West. If nothing else, his defeat in Tennessee last night proved his consistency: He is unpopular EVERYWHERE.
Ron Paul is still in the race and continues to pick up an occasional delegate, but like Gingrich, all he is doing now is splitting the anti-Romney vote. Like Ralph Nader in 2000, his tiny percentage of the vote could serve to deliver up the exact opposite of what his supporters would most want. Just as Nader helped enable a Bush presidency in Florida, so too could Paul guarantee a Romney nomination.
So have we learned anything from Super Tuesday? Arguably not. We already knew that Romney was very well financed, well organised and certain to win his home state of Massachusetts and by extension, regional states such as Vermont. We knew that Rick Santorum has the passionate support of those Republicans who are more conservative and that he would win a state or two. We also knew that Gingrich would lament the temerity of his opponents to campaign against him, talk about his battle against the Washington insiders and make the most out of any victory he could lay claim to.
Gingrich claims to be staying in the race and looking to benefit from the forthcoming southern states, but so far he has lost in Florida and Tennessee and has only won 2 states; his home state of Georgia and neighbouring South Carolina. His continued presence on the ballot serves only to massage his inflated ego and to split the anti-Romney vote, ironically ensuring that Romney will almost certainly receive the nomination.
What we also knew before a vote had been cast is that this is probably all in vain. With his approval on the rise, unemployment figures declining, a potentially difficult speech at AIPAC and meting with Netanyahu handled adroitly, President Obama demonstrated this week that he is a force to be reckoned with who will not go quietly into the night.
At this rate, unless the GOP comes up with a Game Changer, the President will be smiling all the way to the ballot in November…