Mitt Wins Michigan and Arizona. The consensus this morning is that a win - however ugly or however close - is a win. And that’s the good news for Mitt. He staved off the Santorum surge, thanks in no small part to a series of gaffes by the old Santorum, the culture warrior, who might very well have blown his best opportunity to shake this race up. The headline on The New York Times is “Romney Regains Stride with Victories in Two States”, and it’s that kind of upbeat headline that Romney needs to look like the frontrunner heading into Super Tuesday.
The battle now is for Ohio. The pressure’s not off Romney - he just stopped the bleeding. But he could get a nice bounce out of last night’s victories and end this race next Tuesday in Ohio. Of the ten Super Tuesday states, Romney will win Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia (where he and his buddy Ron Paul are the only ones on the ballot), while Newt Gingrich may have the inside track in his home state of Georgia. There are a few caucus states in Alaska, Idaho and North Dakota and then three big primaries: Ohio, Tennessee and Oklahoma. If Santorum can survive the onslaught and win in Ohio - which is similar to his western Pennsylvania home turf - this race will go on. If Romney wins, it might be over. Also crucial for Romney - showing he can win in a culturally conservative state. Winning Tennessee or Oklahoma would certainly help, although Santorum has led in recent polling.