The four remaining GOP candidates looked to our state on Saturday to determine who will carry momentum going into Super Tuesday. The answer, to no one’s surprise, was Mitt Romney.
Romney won the Washington caucus with 38 percent of the vote, while Ron Paul finished second with 25 percent, narrowly edging out Rick Santorum’s 24 percent. So it is that Romney continues his inexorable march toward the nomination.
Paul had been hoping for a boost in support from Washington, spending $40,000 on political ads, according to The Seattle Times, making him one of only two candidates to purchase advertising space in the state. Despite this spending, he remains the only candidate not to score a victory. The best Paul has managed is three different second place finishes.
Newt Gingrich, meanwhile, has faded fast since his upset in South Carolina. His fourth place finish in Washington is just the latest setback. I fully expect both he and Paul to concede defeat following this week’s Super Tuesday, when 10 states will hold primaries or caucuses.
Santorum remains the only candidate posing a threat to Romney, but even he trailed Romney by 101 delegates prior to the Washington caucus. Now the count is 185 to 90 in favor of Romney, according to the Associated Press. So despite the victory for Romney, Santorum has closed the gap just a bit.
Furthermore, Santorum still appears to be the favorite amongst really conservative voters. CNN reports Ohio, arguably the most important of Super Tuesday’s states, currently favors Santorum. No Republican candidate has won the presidency without taking Ohio.
Unfortunately, MSNBC reports a campaign filing mistake may cost Santorum delegates from Ohio and Virginia. As many as 55 delegates may be unavailable for Santorum regardless of who wins those two states. This error could cost Santorum his chances at the presidency.
I know a lot of my fellow WSU students were hoping Paul would win Washington, but it was not to be. Paul’s libertarian policies play well with west side moderates and college students, but Romney’s history in business makes him an attractive candidate to our state’s business powerhouses — they are more likely to side with the establishment frontrunner than take a chance on an eccentric Texas doctor. The same can be said for most voters, judging by the disparity in delegates Romney and Paul have won thus far.
Now Romney is rolling once again. So far in this primary election, every time Romney gains momentum he stumbles and temporarily loses it only to rise again later. I think this time he may have finally hit his stride. With three straight victories, including a surprise in Michigan, Romney should have what it takes to dominate most of Super Tuesday and finally come close to wrapping up the GOP primary.
Then he can go ahead and focus on his inevitable defeat at the hands of President Barack Obama.