The dust has cleared from Super Tuesday, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has a 243 delegate lead over Rick Santorum, who has the next highest delegate total. At this point in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, presidential candidate Barack Obama had a 125 delegate lead over fellow candidate Hillary Clinton, a lead that he maintained all the way to the nomination.
Some people hate math. I used to be one of them, but I’ve grown to like math over the years, because “the numbers”, as we often call them, bring clarity to a situation. What should now be crystal clear to anyone watching this race is how unlikely it is from a probability standpoint that either Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul can catch and overtake the lead Mitt Romney has established.
The political commentator panel on CNN late last night felt like you were watching the aftermath of a New Year’s Eve party where Auld Lang Syne could be heard playing softly in the background, over and over, and everyone involved was wondering when they had gotten too old to be up this late at night. Usually, at this point in the evening, the partisan prognosticators with the most to gain, which last night would have been those partial to the GOP, would have found a new source of energy as their party’s new standard bearer increased his lead over the field. But Alex Castellanos seemed to get more dour by the hour as the Romney delegate count grew. Ari Fleischer seemed to be a little disappointed after the state of Ohio was finally called for Romney, as if he had been looking forward to a Santorum upset. Even though I was comforted by the steady announcements of Romney victories throughout the night, I’ll have to admit that I had my own low moment. The possibility of Rick Santorum as the GOP nominee that flashed through my mind last night as he flirted with the lead in Ohio was so repulsive I immediately started brainstorming to figure out what extra job I could get or business venture I could start so I could contribute a wheelbarrow full of money to the Obama friendly super PAC Priorities USA Action .
As I wrote yesterday, it really didn’t matter whether Romney won or lost Ohio. What mattered was whether or not he got to the watermark of 36 percent. In Ohio, he only bested his average by two points, beating Rick Santorum with 38 percent of the vote. His average for all contests for the night was a bit higher at 41%, but if his average had been five points less, he still would have earned over 200 delegates, which would have remained by far the biggest delegate haul of the night.
If I could give all of these campaigns a word of advice, it would be “victory speeches are supposed to be victorious!” The only Republican candidate last night who remembered that the purpose of a campaign speech is to rally the troops is Ron Paul. Quit worrying about what the news media is going to rebroadcast and give your troops a positive message! If the media doesn’t like what you say, they’ll pull your old clips until they find one that does, so just quit worrying about the TV audience.
If Romney can start winning meaningful contests with 50 percent of the vote, it may quiet some of the naysayers in his own party. I wouldn’t worry about this too much if I were in the Romney campaign though. If we go back to this same point in time in the 2008 Democratic primaries for a second, many of us remember the next two months as the time candidate Barack Obama really grew into being a full fledged presidential candidate. Candidate Romney needs to begin working on the same type of self-transformation, now that he has finally distanced himself from the pack.