Tonight — as read­ers of the NPI Advo­cate are no doubt aware — is Super Tues­day, tra­di­tion­al­ly the biggest (though not nec­es­sar­i­ly the most piv­otal) night of the pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nat­ing sea­son, when more del­e­gates are at stake than at any oth­er point lead­ing up to the nation­al par­ty con­ven­tions at the end of summer.

It’s been an enter­tain­ing evening so far, with some pre­dictable moments (like Newt Gin­grich’s vic­to­ry in Geor­gia) but also the sus­pense of a close race in Ohio between Mitt Rom­ney and Rick Santorum.

More than a dozen states in every region of the coun­try are up for grabs in tonight’s set of con­tests (though most are not win­ner-take-all). Each of the Repub­li­can can­di­dates has at least one state in his win col­umn, with the notable excep­tion of Ron Paul, who has­n’t won any­where yet.

Here is a break­down of who is win­ning where.

Mitt Romney Super Tuesday Win ColumnFirst, let’s take a look at the states Mitt Rom­ney has won, or is like­ly to win.

As we can see from the graph­ic to the left, he’s done well in New Eng­land and the Rocky Moun­tain West. He’s also win­ning eas­i­ly in The Old Domin­ion (Vir­ginia), though nei­ther Rick San­to­rum nor Newt Gin­grich were on the bal­lot there. And he appears to be on the cusp of a very nar­row vic­to­ry in Ohio, the Buck­eye State, where Rick San­to­rum had hoped to pull off an upset.

So, not a bad night for Romney.

How­ev­er, Rom­ney is not doing so well in the South or the Mid­west. There, his rivals have cap­tured some impor­tant states.

Let’s take a look at Rick San­to­rum’s win column.

Rick Santorum Super Tuesday Win ColumnSo far, it con­sists of North Dako­ta (which some pun­dits thought Ron Paul might win), Okla­homa, and Ten­nessee. It’s pos­si­ble that San­to­rum will be able to pick up one more state before the night is over — Alas­ka, where the Repub­li­can cau­cus­es are already underway.

Newt Gin­grich, mean­while, has pre­vailed in his home state of Geor­gia, but that’s the only place where he is win­ning tonight. The Geor­gia win might keep his cam­paign alive for a while, but it won’t secure the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for him. Both Rick San­to­rum and Mitt Rom­ney have won three times as many states as Gin­grich has. Even if Gin­grich were to pick up a few more states in the south, it still would­n’t net him the del­e­gates he needs to get the nom­i­na­tion in Tampa.

As Talk­ing Points Memo (TPM) notes, the only real­ly close con­test tonight has turned out to be Ohio, where Rick San­to­rum is still try­ing to catch up with Mitt Rom­ney after relin­quish­ing a slight lead he held for most of the evening.

After steady­ing his ship with a must-win vic­to­ry in Michigan’s pri­ma­ry last week, Mitt Rom­ney is in chop­py waters in Ohio, nar­row­ly lead­ing Rick San­to­rum with over 90% of the vote in. A loss here would revive talk that Rom­ney may be too dam­aged to lead the par­ty in the gen­er­al elec­tion despite an appar­ent burst of momen­tum in the polls in recent days.


But the big ques­tion is about nar­ra­tive: will tonight be enough to put an end to a long pri­ma­ry slog that just about every­one agrees is hurt­ing Rom­ney who will, unless some­thing incred­i­ble hap­pens, be the Repub­li­can oppo­nent for Oba­ma in the fall? Rom­ney, whose gen­er­al poll num­bers are at almost his­tor­i­cal­ly tox­ic lev­els for a fron­trun­ning can­di­date, needs this pri­ma­ry to end — fast.

San­to­rum has arguably met or sur­passed the Super Tues­day expec­ta­tions that pun­dits and his own oper­a­tives laid out for his can­di­da­cy. He was­n’t on the bal­lot in Vir­ginia, Mass­a­chu­setts, or Ver­mont, so he did­n’t have a chance there. He is run­ning almost even with Mitt Rom­ney in Ohio, and he cap­tured three states out­right, con­tin­u­ing his win­ning streak in the mid­dle of the country.

But he still has a steep hill to climb. His biggest prob­lem is that Newt Gin­grich remains in the race. Had Gin­grich quit pri­or to Super Tues­day, San­to­rum might have picked up Geor­gia, which would have been a nice boost for his cam­paign, and he’d be well-posi­tioned to take Alaba­ma, the next state on the cal­en­dar. Instead, he’s going to have to fight Gin­grich on Gin­grich’s home turf.

If Gin­grich’s goal was to deny Mitt Rom­ney the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion, he would have quit the race by now. But he fool­ish­ly thinks he can become the fron­trun­ner once again if he stays in. Bar­ring some tru­ly improb­a­ble turn of events, that sim­ply isn’t going to hap­pen. The only thing Gin­grich is going to accom­plish by remain­ing a can­di­date will be to deny Rick San­to­rum the oppor­tu­ni­ty to pull even with Rom­ney nation­al­ly — and thus give Rom­ney the nomination.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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