Can Mitt Romney carry his ‘Big Mo’ through Super Tuesday?
Mitt Romney is leading the GOP presidential pack in election wins, delegates, and nominations. But Super Tuesday and its ten contests – especially Ohio – could be the key to whether he keeps his momentum.
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Romney won Washington State’s beauty contest convincingly, taking 38 percent of the vote while Santorum and Paul duked it out for second place with about 25 percent and Gingrich was an also-ran. Romney is 9.4 points ahead of his GOP rivals in the Real Clear Politics national polling average. And the Intrade prediction market gives him an 85 percent chance of becoming the Republican presidential nominee.Skip to next paragraph
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But he’ll have a real fight to keep his Big Mo through Super Tuesday.
He’s very likely to win Massachusetts (where he was governor), Virginia (because Santorum and Gingrich failed to get on the ballot), and Idaho (where one-quarter of Republican caucus-goers are Mormon). But beyond that, all bets are off.
Gingrich has said Georgia – the state he represented as House Speaker – is a must win for him, and anything but a convincing first place likely would end his campaign. (Five Thirty Eight blogger Nate Silver at the New York Times gives Gingrich a 96 percent chance of winning Georgia, and the Real Clear Politics polling average there has him ahead by 16 points.)
Nate Silver’s projections have Santorum ahead in Oklahoma and Tennessee.
For Romney, a strong second in Georgia (which is where most polls have him) and in other states, plus winning Ohio, could be the key to maintaining momentum and strengthening a sense of inevitability.
Although Georgia has more delegates than Ohio, the Buckeye State is seen as the most important among the Super Tuesday contests. It’s a Rust Belt swing state, and as the Associated Press points out, no Republican nominee has ever become president without winning the state, making it “a powerful proving ground for the men trying to show they can take on President Barack Obama.”
Santorum had been leading in Ohio polls, but the latest voter survey finds the former Pennsylvania senator and Romney dead even there.
“This race could really go either way between now and Tuesday,” said Ipsos pollster Chris Jackson. “If Mitt Romney is able to close this out and win this race, that gives him a leg up in going all the way to the convention and winning the Republican nomination.”