Super Tuesday was supposed to be a deciding day for the candidates and reset the campaign. Even though the Tuesday after Super Tuesday only featured three states, it will end up resetting far more of the campaign than Super Tuesday did.
Here are my three takeaways from the Tuesday after Super Tuesday.
Newt is Done – Newt Gingrich played a dangerous game for as long as he could. His South Carolina win made everyone think he was actually going to compete and last longer than the normal “flavor of the week” status of previous GOP headliners. However, Gingrich’s dismal performance in Florida proved that he was in fact, just another flavor of the week.
Instead of trying to compete in the states before Super Tuesday, Gingrich put all of his chips on the ten races on March 6th. He only won a single race on Super Tuesday, in his home state of Georgia. But even though it was only one race, his Super PAC and other pundits theorized he could possibly work his magic throughout the South and therefore walk in with a powerful coalition to a brokered convention. But to make that work, Gingrich would have to run the table in the South, starting with Tuesday’s races in Alabama and Mississippi.
With Rick Santorum taking both of those races fairly convincingly, Tuesday’s races became Newt’s last stand. He may stay in the race, his Super PAC may urge him to continue, but Newt is no longer a threat to Romney or Santorum, and most of all, he is no longer relevant.
GOP Voters aren’t worried about electability – The unofficial exit polls of voters in Alabama and Mississippi, and the fact that Rick Santorum was victorious in both states, shows that conservative GOP voters in conservative states are not worried about electability.
While that speaks to the voting integrity of this group, it also shows one very clear point. Conservative voters are simply not that upset with President Obama. I realize that might sound like heresy to my Republican friends, but if voters were really upset with what President Obama was doing, wouldn’t defeating him be the top priority? And if defeating the incumbent was the priority, wouldn’t electability be the top voting priority?
This situation reminds me of a story a friend once told me about doing something about a negative situation. As a young man, he was working a job he hated and he came home every night complaining about it. After a few weeks of coming home and complaining about his job, his father looked at him and said, “It must not be that bad, you’re still there.”
If my friend’s father was here now, I think he would tell conservative GOP voters, “Obama can’t be that bad, because you don’t care if you beat him or not.”
For a Yankee, Romney Didn’t Do that Badly – Mitt Romney may have held out a little bit of hope that he could have pulled off the upset in either Alabama or Mississippi, but the writing on the wall was that he was going to have a tough night. And while he took third place in both races, in Alabama, he nearly tied Newt Gingrich, who was supposedly the man to beat in the South.
Also, according to the exit polls, Romney continued to do well with moderate Republicans. While those are in relative short supply in primaries, that should spell good things for him in the general election.
On a night that not supposed to go well for Romney at all, he didn’t come out as the big loser. In a long campaign, sometimes that’s as good as you can hope for, especially in hostile territory.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.