It hasn’t been an entirely convincing process but Mitt Romney’s wins in home state Michigan and in Arizona have certainly dented the momentum of the the latest upstart, Rick Santorum.
The New York Times has the numbers and observes:
His victory over Mr. Santorum here in Michigan was far from commanding, but it was most likely sufficient to dampen the rising clamor from across the Republican Party about his ability to win over conservatives and connect with voters. The tussle with Mr. Santorum highlighted ample concerns about Mr. Romney, but his win spared his campaign from deep turmoil.
Arizona was a “winner take all” primary so that’s a straight 29 delegates to Romney. Such victories in non proportional states could prove crucial if the contest lasts until the convention.
Sean Trende looks at the forthcoming races. Next week it’s Super Tuesday with Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia all voting. Taking a fairly conservative view on Romney’s probable results Trende thinks there’s a 20% chance of a brokered convention.
The Washington Post senses Ohio could be the critical race on Tuesday and makes the point that even if Romney gets through will he be ready for Obama in the autumn?
Romney, in contrast, is trying to refocus his campaign on the economy, relying heavily on the methods that have served him well in past wins: a well-organized and well-financed ground operation, a heavy emphasis on early-voting recruitment, a growing list of endorsements, including from both establishment and tea-party leaders, and millions of dollars in TV advertisements.
“We always planned for a potentially long and drawn-out nominating process,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said.
Even in the states where that strategy has worked, however, it has come at a cost. In Florida, for instance, Romney spent millions attacking Gingrich. He won the primary on Jan. 31, but his own popularity declined at the same time.
The risk of a similar outcome looms large in Ohio. And with each passing contest like it, he has less time to position himself for the general-election contest he hopes to wage against Obama.