Super Tuesday could define Romney

Super Tuesday could define Romney
Mitt Romney.
Foto: EFE / JEFF KOWALSKY

Ten states will hold primary elections today while leaders of the Republic party have already begun making noise about the need to end an internal battle that is wasting potential candidates’ energy and not investing sufficient attention in beating President Obama in the fall.

Today is called “Super Tuesday,” the first date for the primary elections that includes the majority of states and where more than 400 of the delegates needed to win the nomination are decided, more than the amount of all the primaries combined.

This weekend, two of the most conservative Congressmen, House Speaker Eric Cantor (R- Virginia) -and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma backed Romney . “There’s a growing coalition that backs Mitt Romney’s plan to fix the economic problems in this country, to find a way to work together and resolve these differences,” Cantor said.

The Republican Party has set up the primary system for the majority of states’ delegates to be divided proportionately according to the percentage of votes each candidate receives, all with the goal of putting their nominee at a competitive advantage against President Obama. That plan has sharply veered.

“They’ve barely begun dealing with Obama,” said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst and professor at the University of Southern California “The way in which they’re attacking each other during the Republican primary is surprising. And it looks like the rest of the candidates are attempting to stay in the race as long as they have a cent and others, even if they lose all of their money…because the truth is there are lots of delegates to win and it appears that they all want a role at the National Convention.”

Romney has yet to strike a definitive blow to his internal opponents, in particular Rick Santorum, the ultra conservative former Pennsylvania senator. Santorum has positioned himself as Romney’s main challenger for the most radical faction of the party and has a firm grip on key states like Ohio, which is also holding its primaries today.

Some believe that Romney has the possibility of gaining a sufficient advantage with delegates and enough triumphs in the majority of states to at least gain the moral superiority that will push out other candidates. Aside from Romney and Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul remain in the contest.

“Super Tuesday will tell the truth — if Romney has a good result, his image will inevitably gain from this,” said Charles Dunn, analyst and former senior member of the political science department of Regents University. “Gingrich has to win Georgia, which is his state, and if he doesn’t, continuing to fight makes no sense.”

But if Gingrich does win Georgia and is ahead in the polls, he could complicate matters for Rick Santorum, who has shown that he could beat Romney. That is, if Gingrich doesn’t divide the Republican vote.

“It’s always harder when there are two conservatives in the same competition,” said Santorum during a Sunday telecast. “Both Gingrich and I are splitting the anti-Romney vote.”

The states voting today are Ohio, Alaska, Virginia, Massachusetts, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Vermont and Idaho. Of these states, Ohio and Georgia have the majority of delegates and is the most important for Romney.

While Santorum has a chance at winning in Tennessee, Ohio and Oklahoma, Ohio’s primary is the prize because it is a swing state state that will come into play again in the presidential elections.

With an avalanche of visits and television commercials, Romney has swooped in on the lead that Santorum had in some of these states.

Ron Paul has his sights set on small states like North Dakota and parts of Idaho where he can gain delegates now that his goal is to gain delegates and thus, bring his influence to this summer’s National Convention.

Meanwhile, a new national Fox News Latino poll of Hispanic voters found none of the Republican candidates has a significant percentage of the vote needed in various states in November.

In fact, the Republicans received 14% of the Latino vote, 17% less than John McCain had among the same group in 2008. President Obama’s lead is six to one among Latino voters, with Obama pulling 70% and Romney just 14%. Obama also comes out ahead of Gingrich 72 to 14. According to the survey results, many older McCain supporters will now vote for Obama: 40% of Latino voters that would have voted for McCain said they’ll now vote for Obama.

These numbers will be more meaningful in November and won’t significantly affect the results of the Republican primary, in part because Latinos aren’t a large part of the Republican base, except in Florida.