OpinionTop of the Ticket

Super Tuesday keeps the long slog going

Rick SantorumRon PaulNewt Gingrich

Super Tuesday accomplished exactly one thing: The long, grueling slog to the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., will go on ... and on ... and on.

Mitt Romney walked away with the most delegates and won the most states, but his wins did not seal the deal or make him the consensus nominee. Winning in his home state of Massachusetts was always a certainty. Taking Vermont was no surprise; it is moderate country and part of his New England base. Winning Idaho was nearly a sure thing too because the state is home to so many of his fellow Mormons. Winning Virginia was an easy shot, as well, since the only opposition he faced was Ron Paul. In other words, Romney won on territory that was familiar and/or safe for his campaign.

Romney also took Ohio, but only by the slimmest of margins. Rick Santorum can claim a near tie in that state (and also kick himself for letting a big lead slip away in recent days). A switch of a few votes among Ohioans could have knocked over the entire campaign chess board.

Despite the Ohio loss, it was a pretty good night for Santorum. His wins came in Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota -- none of which was necessarily an automatic victory for him. It strengthens his argument that he is the strongest alternative to Romney.

Not that Newt Gingrich will buy it. Gingrich won his home base, Georgia, and spoke as if that made him the obvious best choice to take on President Obama. In other words, he's not dropping out; not when he sees a chance to win in Alabama and Mississippi next week and add them to his two wins in the South.

Romney's huge advantage in money and organization has allowed him to stay ahead of his challengers but not leave them in the dust. Nevertheless, in a marathon like this, staying ahead and crossing the finish line first is all that matters, no matter how long it may take.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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