After Super Tuesday, Where Is the GOP Nomination Headed?
Mitt Romney outspent his rivals about five to one and won at least half of the ten Super Tuesday states. He won mostly in urban areas and in states Republicans are unlikely to win in November, including his home state of Massachusetts and nearby Vermont. He won in Ohio where turnout was up over 2008; he lost in Georgia, a GOP stronghold. He won a default contest in Virginia, but nearly half of the voters there went for Ron Paul. Had Santorum's organization gotten him on the ballot there, he would have been competitive. But the same is true of Gingrich. Organization does matter. Romney could have even narrowly lost the popular vote in Ohio while winning the majority of the state's delegates, because Santorum's lack of organization cost him several delegates out of the starting gate.
Rick Santorum won Oklahoma as expected, was strong in Ohio, and won Tennessee and North Dakota. But Romney won out west too, taking Idaho and all of its 32 delegates.
Of the ten Super Tuesday states, Newt Gingrich won just one -- his home state of Georgia -- and Ron Paul won none.
There is no path to victory for Ron Paul. He has yet to win a single state. He is in fourth place in the delegate count. But he is not dropping out any time soon.
Newt Gingrich believes he has a path to victory, but that path is a dead end in a four-man race. He may win next week's contests in the South, which will give him hope that he can win Texas at the end of May or June. But Texas will award its 155 delegates proportionally. No candidate will take them all. And Santorum leads in the Lone Star State at the moment anyway. Romney's organization could pull Texas into his column, particularly if he runs strong in the state's big cities and media markets. Dallas and Houston are likely Romney strongholds.
Newt Gingrich remaining in the race probably helps keep Santorum from overtaking Romney. But Santorum staying in the race is probably keeping Gingrich out of contention as well. Neither one seems to have a path to getting enough delegates to win the nomination outright. But Romney's path gets trickier with every state he loses.