While the final numbers from Super Tuesday are still not final (Alaska has yet to be called and totaled), there is some indication of how the results will look.
Mitt Romney is the big winner of the day taking 5 states – Idaho, Massachuesetts, Ohio, Vermont, and Virginia. Romney also finished second in 4 States – Georgia, Oklahoma (tied), North Dakota and Tennessee. This brings his total of delegates to 354. This exceeds our predictions from Feb 14th and Feb 29th. The delegate count we had stated was 302, assuming wins in 4 States and 2nd place finishes elesewhere.
The race in Ohio may be the big surprise here as it was expected by many pundits to be a must-win State for Rick Santorum that should have been heavily influenced by the fact he was a Senator in neighboring Pennsylvania. While that race was close, in the end Santorum not only lost the popular vote, but also several delegates due to filing issues.
Rick Santorum for his part finished with 3 wins – Oklahoma, North Dakota and Tennessee. He finished second in Ohio and Vermont (tied). The win in North Dakota was not generally expected, providing him with 147 delegates in total. This falls far from our prediction of 184, which had included a win in Ohio.
Newt Gingrich won in his native State of Georgia, finishing poorly in the other States. Gingrich now only has 87 delegates, which is not close to our expectation of 133. He placed very poorly in Ohio, even losing to Rep. Ron Paul in Massachuesetts. Worse of all was his last place finish in Idaho with only 2.2% of the vote.
Rep Ron Paul finished as expected in most every State. While he did raise himself to 54 delegates (also below our estimate of 89), he averaged 17.34% of the votes – and only 14.5% if Virginia is not included. Virginia only had Romney and Rep. Paul on the ballot, providing Rep. Paul with his largest response in the 2012 nomination race of 40.5%. Thus far Rep. Paul has not won a single State, though Alaska results are not in.
**Update, the projected winner of Alaska will be Mitt Romney – 32.6% projected. Santorum will take second with 29%, Paul 24% and Gingrich finishes last with 14.2%. Rep. Paul was expected to fare far better as he was the only candidate to go to Alaska and campaign for votes.
This would increase Romney to 6 wins and 4 second place (including tie). Santorum goes to 3 wins and 3 second place finishes (including tie).**
Our intial expectation was like that of most pundits, that Mitt Romney would exit Super Tuesday with momentum and a 2:1 lead on his closest rival Santorum. The actual lead looks to be at least 2.5x the delegate count, possibly 3:1 after factoring in Alaska.
The real race of the Republican nomination seems to be for 2nd place and the right to challenge Mitt Romney directly. In that race, Rick Santorum is beating Newt Gingrich handily by almost as much of a margin as he is losing to Mitt Romney.
Rep. Ron Paul is generally without impact overall. Rep. Paul has the support to go the distance to the Republican convention, but there is no likelihood that he will even get close to the required delegates. Even so, he has increased his popularity versus 2008.
Looking forward, the Gingrich campaign has stated, on Fox News at approximately 11:40pm Tuesday, that their intention is to continue in the race. They are apparently counting on the May primary in Texas to give them room to take on Mitt Romney. The question with that strategy is if they can maintain both financial support and a ground network of supporters in all the States up to that point. It seems unlikely without devastating wins in Kansas (March 10th), Alabama and Mississippi (both March 13th).
The Santorum campaign is more likely to continue further. The big challenge for Santorum will be Pennslyvania and New York (April 24th) – assuming at least second place finishes in the aboved mentioned southern States and Hawaii (March 13th), Missouri (March 17th), Illinois (March 20th), Louisiana (March 24th), with D.C., Maryland, and Wisconsin (April 3rd). Of these States, Illinois is seen as the immediate critical State where he should win and will determine if Santorum will have the financial funding to make it to April.
For Mitt Romney, expectations are now that he should sweep Missouri, Illinois, D.C., and Wisconsin. Louisiana and Missouri will be contested by Gingrich in his attempt to resecure the South, though a close 1st or 2nd place will be enough for Romney to maintain momentum. Santorum will likely make the bid for Maryland and try to shore up his weakness in recent losses in the northern Midwest with Wisconsin.
Overall, we expect a continuation of the established trend. Romney will continue to win the majority of the races, finishing 2nd more often than not. While Santorum might reduce the gap of delegates, it seems unlikely to be less that at least 1/2 fewer delegates than Romney will be able to maintain going forward until April.
The outcome then may be: Gingrich continues to lose funding. Without substantial wins in Alabama or Mississippi, as well as wins in both Missouri and Louisiana, plus a 2nd place in either Illinois or Maryland, it is likely that he will be oout of the race by March 17th at the earliest or probably April 3rd.
Depending on when Gingrich leaves the race, Santorum will maintain his 2nd place total of delegates. He may slightly decrease his delegate gap with Romney, but not by enough to be secure. We would expect that if Santorum does not win Pennsylvania by wide margin and New York in general, he should be out of the race shortly thereafter.
Rep. Ron Paul could win Hawaii, or any 1 State as an odd chance, but will remain without traction.