Republicans in 10 states went to the polls yesterday to choose their party’s nominee but all eyes were on Ohio, where Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum alternated as the top candidate in the polls. Hours after the polls in the state closed, Romney was declared the winner in Ohio by only one percent. Romney significantly grew his delegate total and some analysts argue that it is virtually impossible for Santorum to win the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination without a brokered convention.
Mitt Romney won Ohio with 38% of the vote to Rick Santorum’s 37%. Newt Gingrich came in 15% and Ron Paul came in 9%. Unfortunately for Santorum, he may be unable to win up to 18 of the state’s 63 delegates because of mistakes in campaign filings.
Romney also won Vermont (40%), Massachusetts (72%), Idaho (69%) and Virginia (60%), where only he and Ron Paul qualified for the ballot. The results from the Alaska caucus were not in at the time of publication, but Romney won that caucus in 2008. He now has at least 396 delegates.
Romney spoke confidently last night, declaring, “I’m gonna get this nomination!” He emphasized electability and the importance of defeating President Obama. He said that a second Obama term would be worse than the first because he’d be “unrestricted by the demands of reelection.” He did not criticize his rivals and told viewers that “real change is finally on the way.” His message was almost entirely geared towards the general election.
Rick Santorum won Tennessee (37%), Oklahoma (34%) and North Dakota (40%). His delegate total is now at least 158. He says he can defeat Romney if Newt Gingrich drops out, thereby consolidating the voters that are opposed to the current frontrunner. In his speech, Santorum distinguished himself as the only one of the three that has never favored an individual health care mandate.
The bulk of Santorum’s speech was devoted to making a philosophical argument for conservatism and against liberalism, saying that the 2012 election is about “fundamental liberty.” He went after Romney on health care, stating that the Republican Party needs a nominee who will be “truthful with the American public.”
Newt Gingrich said he had to win his home state of Georgia to continue and he did so with 48% of the vote. He has 103 delegates, according to CNN. He began his speech by recounting how many times the “elites” had declared his candidacy dead. He then argued that Romney is less electable than him because the “Romney tactic” of outspending his opponents will not work against a more formidable President Obama. Gingrich said that the nominee must be able to debate Obama and his “deliciously incoherent” policies.