Beyond Super Tuesday: Will calendar be kinder to a battered Mitt Romney?
Barring a major upset, Mitt Romney is still on track for the nomination. But Super Tuesday could have been a lot better for him, and the path ahead is daunting.
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CNN columnist John Avlon calls the current situation "close to a worst-case scenario" for Republicans, noting that even if Romney were to win every state going forward (which is unlikely), he wouldn't clinch the nomination until May – and that he may still not be able to win enough delegates to avoid a contested convention.Skip to next paragraph
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Some Romney detractors, like Erick Erickson from the conservative Red State blog, have conceded that Romney is likely to be the nominee – but they're pretty unhappy about where that leaves Republicans.
"[Romney] will be the nominee having lost the South, Appalachia, evangelicals, conservatives, and blue collar voters. He will go into the general election deeply distrusted by his own base while having to woo independent voters. This is not a dazzling position to be in to beat an incumbent president," writes Erickson.
"He won his home state of Michigan by less than 3 percent. He won Ohio barely after pouring in money. A win is a win is a win. But with each Romney win, he comes away even more badly bruised. The rest of March will be just as brutal. What a mess."
Others think Romney's weaknesses have been overblown. In her conservative Right Turn blog, Jennifer Rubin notes that Romney won Ohio, dubbed his "must-win" state, has won states in every region but the deep South, and has racked up far more delegates than any other candidate.
"It is only in a media environment in which so many pundits are rooting for the pummeling to continue in the GOP could this be characterized as 'failing to close the deal' or evidence of weakness by Romney," she wrote Wednesday.
Still, many conservative voters seem far from convinced.
One of the worst signs for Romney Tuesday actually came from a state that he won handily: Virginia.
Romney got 60 percent of the vote there, while Ron Paul got 40 percent.
The problem? Those were the only two names on the ballot, since Gingrich and Santorum didn't get enough signatures to qualify, and in 2008, Mr. Paul got just 4.5 percent of the Virginia vote. Since it's unlikely that so many Virginians suddenly switched over to Paul, that 40 percent can be more easily seen as a protest vote by Republicans who cared most about registering a vote against Romney – hardly a mark of enthusiasm from his party.
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