Romney and Santorum’s Big Super Tuesday Out

Did you see a lot of mentions of “Super Tuesday” on your news aggregator of choice yesterday, be it your news feed, a TV channel, or your mother calling to leave rambling informational voicemails? Yes, you probably did. Super Tuesday is one of the first steps in the process of a nomination for a GOP candidate, or at least one of the first moments where a frontrunner potentially becomes really clear. There’s a helpful breakdown of the entire situation at the National Post — essentially, candidates attempt to “win” states via a voting/primary system, and if they succeed, they get a number of delegates that’s proportional to that state’s population to support them towards a nomination. Super Tuesday is a day upon which many states have their contests at once, and therefore it’s possible for one candidate to win a significant majority of delegates in the campaign thus far all at the same time. This year, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Ohio, Vermont, and Virginia participated, meaning that over 400 delegates were being competed for.

This is sort of a neat and, depending on who you are, maybe an exciting thing to watch. For candidates, it’s kind of stressful, as there are too many states to campaign in effectively, so they have to pick and choose carefully. While there’s still plenty of time and more important decisions to be made before there’s an official GOP nomination, it’s an important milestone, and if one candidate manages to sweep a solid majority of the states, the other may find out earlier on the campaign trail than they had planned that they’re probably not going all the way.

In this case, there wasn’t really what anyone could call a “sweep.” Romney was generally considered to have come out on top and is still being described as the “frontrunner,” but Santorum also had a “relatively strong night” and can’t be discounted yet. Romney has the most delegates this far in the race, and “according to exit polls, Republicans overwhelmingly continue to see Romney as having the best chance to beat Mr. Obama.” There appears, however, to be some concern about Romney’s ability to “connect,” and it’s notable that Santorum won three states and almost took a fourth despite the impressive degree to which Romney outspent him in campaigning (the AP reports that “Romney and the super PAC backing him have been responsible for more than half of the more than $75 million in GOP ad spending thus far.”)

This inconclusive victory means all sorts of things for Republican candidates — there’s lots of maneuvering to be done in regards to “splitting the anti-Romney vote” and negative campaigning versus trying to convince residents of your home state that you enjoy drinking domestic beers in sports bars and don’t make over $21 million a year (AHEM Mitt Romney) and also figuring out what the fuck to do about Ron Paul. (Paul is not without delegates, but has yet to win a state.) For voters, it means that unfortunately we have a lot more infighting and posturing to get through as candidates try to look better than each other — for instance, like when we had to watch them struggle to condemn Rush Limbaugh’s comments on Sandra Fluke without actually disagreeing with him, but also without attracting the same level of ire that he did. On the other hand, it means that candidates who are competing with each other have less time, resources and campaign money to directly campaign against Obama — so if you’re hoping for his re-election, this might be a good thing.

There are still approximately infinity other events and small contests to sit through before a GOP nomination, like a series of Southern primaries in the near future. It seems entirely possible that we’ll still be watching this happen through the summer. While it still seems to be generally agreed upon that Romney is the most likely GOP candidate for president, we have a long ride before the GOP themselves come out and say that.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 749 articles for us.

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      It’s true. I’ve been away on active duty training orders, so I forgot that Super Tuesday was coming up. When I realized it was the very next day, I was all, “OMG IT’S ALMOST SUPER TUESDAY!!!!!” And everyone else was all, “What’s that?”

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    I just want Rick Santorum off my televison/Internet. Romney can stay, mostly because of that speech where he talked about how the trees in Michigan are the right height. That was pretty endearing, in a clueless-rich-man-who-will-never-be-president kind of way.

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    Santorum won my state. I don’t want to live in it any more. Also I just can’t stop being appalled and terrified that I don’t see any of the candidates, republican or democrat, competently representing any of my interests.

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