Despite super success, Romney not yet secure as Republican presidential candidate

Ronald Wilcox of Boise, with sign, cheers with his wife Cathy, to his left in blue shirt, as results are announced at the Ada County Republican caucus on Super Tuesday March 6, at Taco Bell Arena on the campus of Boise State University to select a nominee for president. Romney won with 51.79% of the vote in the first round. (AP Photo/Joe Jaszewski, Idaho Staatesman)

The Republican presidential race pressed on this week as voters from 10 states turned out to cast their primary ballots on Super Tuesday.

Ohio, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia, Idaho, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, Oklahoma and Georgia had delegates up for grabs in Tuesday’s primaries. While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney grabbed the most, bringing his total to 361, he was in close competition with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum in key states like Ohio.

Romney was victorious in Ohio, Virginia, Alaska, Idaho, and Vermont. He also won handily in Massachusetts. Santorum was able to take Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich won his first primary since January 21 in Georgia, his home state.

Despite Romney coming away from Super Tuesday with the most states and delegates, Santorum kept up with Romney in several races. In Ohio, Romney received 38 percent of the vote to Santorum’s 37 percent.

A victory in Ohio is key in the path to nomination. For Romney, the win was a step closer to establishing the “inevitability factor” of being the Republican nominee. Had Santorum taken the state, he could have used the victory to show his viability on the national stage.

“If Santorum had taken Ohio, that would’ve shaken things up a lot,” said John McAdams, a Marquette professor of political science. “Romney sort of came from behind in Ohio. They split states (in terms of percentages) pretty evenly, but not delegates.”

Some argue that Romney’s close win in Ohio and other states show his inability to connect with middle class voters, a criticism that has followed Romney throughout the race.

“Even in Ohio, where he outspent his opponents by almost 4 to 1, 60 percent of Ohio Republicans wanted somebody else,” said Andy Suchorski, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and chair of Marquette’s College Democrats. Suchorski added that Romney has won by small margins or lost in other states where Romney’s campaign vastly outspent his opponents’.

A total of 1,144 delegates are needed in order to secure the Republican nomination. While Romney continues to lead the other candidates by a large margin, he is still far away from the necessary amount. According to CNN’s numbers, Romney has 429, Santorum has 169, Gingrich has 118 and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas comes in last with 67.

Julia Azari, a Marquette professor of political science, said the candidates still have a long way to go.

“I don’t think the GOP is out of the woods,” she said. “Social conservatives are not, as a group, as enthusiastic about Romney as party leaders might like.”

While the battle will rage on among the Republican candidates, states will also begin to see campaign movements from President Obama. When it comes to the general election in November, wins in states like Ohio will become even more important.

“Ohio is not like any other state, and leading up to November you will hear about Ohio constantly,” said Patrick Garrett, chair of the Marquette College Republicans and sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. “In the past 10 presidential elections, Ohio has sent their electoral votes to the winner. You can almost guarantee whoever wins Ohio in November will be President of the United States.”