This was not such a super Tuesday for Romney. Sure, he won Virginia -- but he was supposed to, it was a head-to-head matchup with Ron Paul. Sure, he won his home state, Massachusetts, and a 17-delegate New England state in Vermont. Ohio was his big win, and he needed it. But he won by 1 percent, about 12,000 votes, at this hour.One analyst looking at results last night says by the time the primaries are over Romney will have a plurality of delegates, but quite possibly not the majority it takes to sew up the nomination.
The losses in Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma themselves aren't bad, but Romney's share of the vote is pretty disappointing: 26 percent in Georgia, 28 percent in Oklahoma, 28 percent in Tennessee. Throw in 24 percent in North Dakota.
I suppose he and his team can boast that they won Idaho (62 percent, even more than in Virginia) and Alaska (32 percent, three percentage points over Santorum).
But after last week's big wins in Michigan and Arizona, we were supposed to see signs of the party starting to unify around Romney. Instead, the frontrunner has a problem with the Midwest and South that is keeping him at less than three in ten right now. That was good enough for second place in most of these states, but that's still setting a low bar: He only has to beat out Ron Paul and in most cases, Newt, who is becoming an afterthought. Sure, Romney had a great night in terms of delegates. I stand by my assessment that his road to the nomination is the hardest, except for all of the others. But he's still got glaring weaknesses in connecting with people. Maybe it's the Mormon issue. Maybe it's his background. But I think the "brokered convention yields a surprise nominee" talk just got a new jolt of energy this morning.
Some pundits are saying Romney needn't worry because when the general election comes around all those Newt and Santorum supporters will line up behind him, but I'm not so sure. I'm afraid we'll see another situation like the 1998 midterms when many conservatives just stayed home. GOP voters were motivated to get out in 2010 and sweep Dems out of power, but Romney is not going to generate that same reaction.