Mitt Romney went into Super Tuesday hoping to win the key states and build some momentum that might help him shed Santorum and Gingrich. He didn’t get it. His wins in Massachusetts and Vermont are virtually irrelevant, as was Virginia, since neither of his two main opponents were on the ballot. Only Ohio mattered and that was a virtual tie with Santorum.
Meanwhile, Santorum won Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota and Gingrich got a win in his home state of Georgia. And most of the new few primaries are ones that Santorum might well be able to win. Kansas votes on Saturday, where Santorum should have a strong showing. And next week will see primaries in Alabama, Mississippi and the Missouri caucuses (they already had one round, which Santorum won, but it didn’t count; this one will actually decide the delegates) — all states that Santorum is probably the favorite to win. Illinois and Louisiana later in the month will likely be a split.
Newt Gingrich could help Santorum out a lot if he’d pull out of the race, but that’s not likely. He has no chance of actually winning, but he can certainly hurt Santorum by splitting the conservative religious vote — and the longer he stays in, the more damage he can do. If Santorum had actually won Ohio, that would have been a really big story. But even such a close vote has to keep Mitt very uncomfortable. He was hoping to come out of Tuesday as the inevitable nominee, but the only thing inevitable at this point is a campaign that will drag out through March at the very least, and quite likely longer.
And remember, this is all happening despite Romney’s massive fundraising, spending and organizational advantage, none of which seems to be helping him all that much with Republican voters. No matter what happens from this point on, Romney is looking like a very weak candidate. The real winner last night was clearly President Obama.