DECKER: Romney’s turning point?

The frontrunner has a chance to break away from the pack

Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

View results

This week’s Super Tuesday contests could prove to be the turning point for the Republican nomination for president. Voters go to the polls in 10 states, with 437 delegates up for the taking. There’s still a long way to go with 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination, but a good Super Tuesday showing can propel a campaign toward the finish line. With five straight wins, Mitt Romney has taken the momentum away from Rick Santorum, but - at this point - anyone could still come out on top.

One of the most important prizes is Ohio. No Republican in history has even been elected president without winning Ohio in November, so faring well in the Buckeye State primary can foreshadow how the general election may turn. Given that winning this state is essential for the GOP, it wouldn’t be promising if the eventual nominee were unpopular there.

A week ago, Mr. Santorum was up 7 points in Ohio. After a series of victories, however, Mr. Romney has rallied and is in the pole position again. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, the former Massachusetts governor leads the former Pennsylvania senator 34 percent to 31 percent. The same dynamic played out on Feb. 28 in neighboring Michigan, where Mr. Santorum was ahead a week out before Mr. Romney surged, winning his boyhood home state by 3 points.

To date, none of the runners have broken away from the pack in the race for delegates. Mr. Romney leads with 203 delegates to Mr. Santorum’s 92, with Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich running behind with 25 and 33 delegates respectively. A windfall on Tuesday could put anybody up front. There are 63 delegates up for grabs in Ohio alone. The other Super Tuesday states are Virginia, Vermont, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Georgia, Alaska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Idaho. Massachusetts and bordering Vermont are easy pickups for the former governor of the Bay State. Virginia should be too, considering that neither Mr. Gingrich nor Mr. Santorum made it onto the ballot there despite both living in the commonwealth.

Perhaps Mr. Romney’s biggest advantage is that his opposition is divided. There is some lingering discontent among the party base that the frontrunner isn’t conservative enough, but the various factions can’t unify behind a single alternative. In this way, the race can be seen as Mr. Romney versus the other three, with Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul and Mr. Santorum helping Mr. Romney win primaries and caucuses by splitting up the “anybody but Romney” vote. Speeding up the process isn’t a bad thing for the GOP because the sooner this divisive intraparty fight is over the better. Elephants need to redirect their rhetorical fire from one another and start aiming it at the ultimate target: President Obama.

The Republican establishment is circling the wagons around Mr. Romney. Over the weekend, Mitt was endorsed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, both stalwart conservatives whose states are in play on Super Tuesday. Sen. Bob Portman is stumping for him in Ohio. With a little help from his friends, Mr. Romney is poised to nail down some important wins and turn the tide for good.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Brett M. Decker

Brett M. Decker

Brett M. Decker, former Editorial Page Editor for The Washington Times, was an editorial page writer and editor for the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank, Senior Vice President of Pentagon Federal Credit Union, speechwriter to then-House Majority Whip (later Majority Leader) Tom DeLay and reporter and television producer for the legendary Robert ...

Latest Stories

blog comments powered by Disqus
TWT Video Picks
You Might Also Like
  • Maureen McDonnell looks on as her husband, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, made a statement on Tuesday after the couple was indicted on corruption charges. (associated press)

    PRUDEN: Where have the big-time grifters gone?

  • This photo taken Jan. 9, 2014,  shows New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gesturing as he answers a question during a news conference  at the Statehouse in Trenton.  Christie will propose extending the public school calendar and lengthening the school day in a speech he hopes will help him rebound from an apparent political payback scheme orchestrated by key aides. The early front-runner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination will make a case Tuesday Jan. 14, 2014, that children who spend more time in school graduate better prepared academically, according to excerpts of his State of the State address obtained by The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

  • ** FILE ** Secretary of State Hillary Rodham testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

    PRUDEN: The question to haunt the West

  • Get Breaking Alerts