The conventional wisdom going into Super Tuesday was that if Romney won Ohio he could make the case that the nomination was his and that his challengers needed to fall in line behind him.
Well, Romney won Ohio; but his challengers are far from ready to throw in the towel.
Romney managed to pull out a one point victory in Ohio; defeating Rick Santorum 38%-37% in the most important contest of the evening. He also won in Alaska, Idaho, Virginia, Vermont and Massachusetts. He won more than half of the contested delegates and made it impossible for any of his challengers to catch him in the delegate count. Yet his detractors and the press are unwilling to give him his due, once again placing an asterisk next to his victory. With Romney there is always a “But”.
“He won Massachusetts…BUT… he lives there.”
“He won Virginia…BUT… only he and Ron Paul were on the ballot…and Paul got 40%.”
“He won Idaho…BUT… there are a lot of Mormons in Idaho.”
“He won Ohio…BUT…he only beat Santorum by 1% point.”
“He won Alaska…BUT…nobody cares about Alaska.”
No matter how well Romney does, the bar always seems to be moved a little higher.
“He won New Hampshire…BUT…he has a home there.”
“He won Florida…BUT…he lost in the panhandle; which is where the true conservatives live.”
“He won Michigan…BUT…he barely squeaked out a win in his home state.”
“He cannot win over women.” “He cannot win among evangelicals.” “He cannot win among Latinos.” “He cannot win among blue collar workers.” “He’s too stiff.” “He’s too programmed.” “He’s too negative.” “He’s too rich.”
Yet all he does is win.
The next two weeks do not bode well for the Romney campaign. Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Missouri are expected to fall into the loss column. Buoyed by their Super Tuesday victories, both Santorum and Gingrich have vowed to continue the fight. Santorum longs for a one on one fight against Romney. No question that Santorum is the big winner on Super Tuesday if Gingrich is out of the way. But as long as both of them stay in the race neither one of them can defeat Romney.
So once again the bar will be raised.
Mitt Romney will probably go into the convention with a majority of the delegates; but not the 1.144 needed to sew up the nomination. A messy, contested convention will ensue; which is not what the Republican establishment wants. They long for somebody…anybody to step in and fill the void. They long for “Anybody but Mitt”. But at this point Mitt is what they have to work with; a flawed candidate that has been unable to connect with the party faithful.
Yet for all his flaws…all Romney does is win.
Perhaps it’s time for the Party to give him his due.