The astonishing spin in the aftermath of Super Tuesday is that Mitt Romney — if he didn’t lose — didn’t win and therefore lost the night.
No, really. The guy who racked up twice as many primary and caucus victories as his nearest competitor; the fellow who slaughtered his nearest rival in winning delegates 224 to 86; and the candidate who outpolled, outspent, and outhustled the entire field and ran rings around his nearest rival in five of the six states he won is being disrespected by conservatives, pundits in the mainstream media, bloggers, and fellow Republicans across the country.
The headlines are from Mars:
“No Super Tuesday Knockout Punch” — New York Times
“Slouching Toward Victory” — Daily Mail
“Republican Split Decision” — Wall Street Journal
“Mitt’s Glass Half Empty” — Washington Monthly
“No Clear Path to Victory for Romney” — Daily Beast
“It Ain’t Over” — Weekly Standard
Let us put this nonsense to bed once and for all: Mitt Romney was a huge winner on Super Tuesday. By any objective measurement — total votes, delegates won, margin of victory, and the fact that in the four contests he didn’t win he finished second (even beating Santorum in Georgia) — Romney should be credited with almost putting the nomination out of reach. Only a miracle — “an act of God” says the Romney camp — could deny him the Republican nomination at this point. That’s only a slight overstatement.
As Josh Putnam pointed out before the Super Tuesday delegate count was even known, there is no practical or realistic path to 1144 — the number of delegates needed for the nomination — for either Santorum or Gingrich. Santorum would have to start beating the pants off Romney to gain the lion’s share of delegates in states that award them proportionally, and would also have to cross thresholds of more than 50% of the vote in some states that have the winner-take-all rules. And all Romney has to do is finish a fairly close second in states he doesn’t win to keep piling up the delegates.
RealClearPolitics gives Romney 404 delegates to Santorum’s 161. The problem with playing catch-up is best illustrated by what happened in Oklahoma. Santorum won the state by 5 points over Romney, but only picked up one delegate on him — 14-13. With Romney currently enjoying a 250-delegate lead, the delegate math starts to weigh heavily on Santorum’s campaign.