By winning six of 10 states on Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney solidified his position as the GOP frontrunner. He got closer to the 1,144 delegates he'll need to win the Republican nomination, but he didn't deliver anything close to a knockout punch.
Just before Tuesday's Ohio primary, Ebony Grantonz, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, captured the general sentiment in saying, “I'm not excited about any of them.” Tuesday's results seem to indicate she's not alone.
As ABC News' Gary Langer noted: “In all seven states holding primaries Tuesday night combined, 61% of voters picked either electability or experience as the top attribute they were looking for – and 51% of them supported Romney. His challenge is that a sizable remaining chunk of the GOP electorate, 36% across these seven states, picked a different attribute as more important – either the candidate with ‘strong moral character' or the ‘true conservative.' And among these true believers, Romney's support plummeted to just 17%. Forty-six percent instead voted for Santorum.”
Taken a step further, exit polls in virtually every state contested yesterday indicate that Romney carried voters who do not identify as evangelical Christians and those earning at least $100,000 a year. Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, who won three states, continued showing strength among the party's staunchest conservatives.
Romney will probably win the nomination. That seemed likely before Super Tuesday and it remains so this Wednesday after. However, in his dream scenario, yesterday's results would have been decisive enough to prompt Santorum and other GOP hopefuls to consider ending their runs. That is not going to happen. As such, Romney's focus must stay where it is and he cannot zero in on Obama, at least not exclusively. Meanwhile, his "fellow" Republicans will continue to chip away at a candidate who is simply not exciting a major part of his own party – people who might not be voting for him now, but ones he is going to need in order to achieve his ultimate goal.
With each day Romney stays in the GOP dogfight, he loses valuable time to shape his general-election message and tell all Americans, not just Republicans, why he – and not the man currently occupying the Oval Office – should be sworn in next January.