After Super Tuesday, It's Time to Narrow the Field

Neil Snyder
Super Tuesday was a great day for Mitt Romney.  He won 6 states including Ohio: a state that will be a swing state in November.  Rick Santorum won 3 states, and Newt Gingrich won 1 state - Georgia, his home state.  To date,

  • Mitt Romney has won 13 states, and he has 415 delegates;
  • Rick Santorum has won 7 states, and he has 176 delegates;
  • Newt Gingrich has won 2 states, and he has 105 delegates; and
  • Ron Paul has won 0 states, and he has 47 delegates.
The latest Gallup Tracking poll for the Republican nomination shows Romney at 38%, Santorum at 22%, Newt Gingrich at 15%, and Ron Paul at 12%:


Looking at the trend lines, Gingrich and Paul have been steady for about a month at the bottom of the pack.  Santorum rode the crest of a wave following his hat trick in February, but his support has fallen dramatically.  He now trails Romney by 16 points.

In the Georgia primary, Gingrich won 47% of the vote.  Romney was second with 26%, and Santorum was third with 20%.  The closest Gingrich came to winning in any other state on Super Tuesday was a distant third except in Virginia where he wasn't even on the ballot.  By comparison, Romney won 72% of the vote in his home state - Massachusetts. 

It's time for Gingrich to seriously consider getting out of the race.  He's a man of big ideas.  I know that because he says so incessantly.  Gingrich should think about what his presence in the GOP race means going forward.  A thinking man would be hard pressed to find a good rationale for continuing to fight when he knows that he's been beaten.  If Gingrich doesn't realize that he's through, he's not thinking hard enough.

Cutting to the chase, there is no good reason for Ron Paul to remain in the GOP field.  His performance has been steady at the low end, and there is nothing on the horizon suggesting that his prospects are improving.  Some have said that he is building a libertarian base inside the Republican Party so that his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), can run for president at some future date, but that's only conjecture.  Assuming that's what he's up to, it's time for Paul to think about the value he could add if he endorsed a candidate that has a chance of winning.  There are only two candidates who fit the bill, Romney and Santorum, and you can make a strong argument that Santorum's days are numbered.  Moving Romney to the right and helping to get him elected may be the best that Paul can hope to accomplish as we move ahead. 

The Ohio primary was a key state for Santorum because, as I said, it will be a swing state in November; he went toe-to-toe with Romney; and he lost.  He had a double digit lead in Ohio a week before the primary, but he ended up losing by a narrow margin.  Regardless of the closeness of the outcome, the trend for Santorum was strongly negative.  To believe otherwise, you have to ignore the facts completely.  Santorum, too, should consider dropping out of the race, endorsing Romney, and doing his utmost to move Romney to the right and help him defeat Barack Obama.

Judging by the evidence, it won't be long before Romney will not need to make any concessions to win the support of his rivals.  Slowly but surely, GOP voters are coming to terms with the thought that Romney will be their nominee.  By staying the course despite the evidence, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul are wasting valuable opportunity and lots of money.


Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.


Super Tuesday was a great day for Mitt Romney.  He won 6 states including Ohio: a state that will be a swing state in November.  Rick Santorum won 3 states, and Newt Gingrich won 1 state - Georgia, his home state.  To date,

  • Mitt Romney has won 13 states, and he has 415 delegates;
  • Rick Santorum has won 7 states, and he has 176 delegates;
  • Newt Gingrich has won 2 states, and he has 105 delegates; and
  • Ron Paul has won 0 states, and he has 47 delegates.

The latest Gallup Tracking poll for the Republican nomination shows Romney at 38%, Santorum at 22%, Newt Gingrich at 15%, and Ron Paul at 12%:


Looking at the trend lines, Gingrich and Paul have been steady for about a month at the bottom of the pack.  Santorum rode the crest of a wave following his hat trick in February, but his support has fallen dramatically.  He now trails Romney by 16 points.

In the Georgia primary, Gingrich won 47% of the vote.  Romney was second with 26%, and Santorum was third with 20%.  The closest Gingrich came to winning in any other state on Super Tuesday was a distant third except in Virginia where he wasn't even on the ballot.  By comparison, Romney won 72% of the vote in his home state - Massachusetts. 

It's time for Gingrich to seriously consider getting out of the race.  He's a man of big ideas.  I know that because he says so incessantly.  Gingrich should think about what his presence in the GOP race means going forward.  A thinking man would be hard pressed to find a good rationale for continuing to fight when he knows that he's been beaten.  If Gingrich doesn't realize that he's through, he's not thinking hard enough.

Cutting to the chase, there is no good reason for Ron Paul to remain in the GOP field.  His performance has been steady at the low end, and there is nothing on the horizon suggesting that his prospects are improving.  Some have said that he is building a libertarian base inside the Republican Party so that his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), can run for president at some future date, but that's only conjecture.  Assuming that's what he's up to, it's time for Paul to think about the value he could add if he endorsed a candidate that has a chance of winning.  There are only two candidates who fit the bill, Romney and Santorum, and you can make a strong argument that Santorum's days are numbered.  Moving Romney to the right and helping to get him elected may be the best that Paul can hope to accomplish as we move ahead. 

The Ohio primary was a key state for Santorum because, as I said, it will be a swing state in November; he went toe-to-toe with Romney; and he lost.  He had a double digit lead in Ohio a week before the primary, but he ended up losing by a narrow margin.  Regardless of the closeness of the outcome, the trend for Santorum was strongly negative.  To believe otherwise, you have to ignore the facts completely.  Santorum, too, should consider dropping out of the race, endorsing Romney, and doing his utmost to move Romney to the right and help him defeat Barack Obama.

Judging by the evidence, it won't be long before Romney will not need to make any concessions to win the support of his rivals.  Slowly but surely, GOP voters are coming to terms with the thought that Romney will be their nominee.  By staying the course despite the evidence, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul are wasting valuable opportunity and lots of money.


Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia.  His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.