the numbers guy

Super Tuesday – Decisive night ahead for GOP

Posted on: March 6, 2012

Today is Super Tuesday, and there are now just a couple of hours until the first polls close on the east coast.

This could well be the night in which the GOP nomination contest shifts decisively in Mitt Romney’s favour. A win in tightly-contested Ohio, a strong performance in challenging states such as Tennessee, plus solid wins in the more Romney-friendly states of Massachusetts, Idaho and Vermont, would probably be enough to make Mr Romney the presumptive GOP nominee.

The late polling evidence, which gives Mr Romney a modest edge in Ohio and has him competitive in Tennessee, points to just such a scenario. Indeed, it is now easier to see how tonight would pan out in a way which sees Mr Romney essentially wrap things up, than it is to imagine a scenario in which tonight sees Rick Santorum somehow manage to up-end the GOP race.

That is not to say Mr Santorum is not in with at least a chance. He’s clearly within touching distance in Ohio and, in terms of the media narrative coming out of tonight, so much will depend on the result in Ohio. The late polls may have given Mr Romney a slight lead – but they have also heightened expectations of a strong Romney performance.

If Mr Santorum pulls Ohio out of the bag, along with wins in Tennessee, Oklahoma and perhaps North Dakota, all bets would be off. The next states to vote after Super Tuesday are Kansas, Alabama and Mississippi – all of which hold momentum-building potential for Mr Santorum.

But, in my view, Mr Santorum needs to come out of tonight with at least a win in Ohio under his belt in order to keep his candidacy alive. That’s a big ask, but far from impossible. If Mr Santorum and Mr Romney are as close as the polls say, we’ll be in for a long, fascinating night.

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