The Debate

Romney Edges Ohio

Mitt Romney wins a key victory in Ohio, but loses out in Tennessee despite heavily outspending Santorum.

With 96 percent of the vote counted, Ohio looks like it’s going to be going to Mitt Romney by about a percentage point. The former Massachusetts governor also picked up Idaho, Massachusetts, Virginia and Vermont. Rick Santorum scored wins in Oklahoma, North Dakota and most interestingly Tennessee.

Why is Tennessee so interesting? Because Romney outspent Santorum by about 3 to 1 only to lose the state by almost 10 percent. Romney is still the favorite to secure the Republican nomination due to the delegate math. As I mentioned earlier, over at Frontloading HQ, Davidson College Prof. Josh Putnam crunched the numbers and found some bleak reading for the Santorum and Newt Gingrich campaigns:

“The bottom line here is that Romney has enough of a delegate advantage right now and especially coming out of today's contests that it is very unlikely that anyone will catch him, much less catch him and get to 1144 (the number necessary to win the Republican nomination.)”

“And that is a problem in this race. Well, a problem for Gingrich and Santorum anyway. If all either of them can take to voters is an argument that all they can do is prevent Romney from getting to 1144, then neither has a winning strategy.”

Still, Romney won’t be able to outspend Barack Obama by 3 to 1 margins in competitive states come the general election. And the longer the Republican primary goes on, the bigger the drain on his resources before he can train his fire on the president.

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The next week is a bit quieter on the primary front – Kansas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam vote at the weekend, followed by Alabama, Hawaii and Mississippi a week from today. So it will be mostly back to foreign policy until then, including more on Iran, with Mitt Romney having outlined his policy on Iran’s nuclear program, and Obama’s response to the flak he has received for being “soft” on the issue.