Super Tuesday: The end of a chapter, not of the story

Super Tuesday will not bring any finality to the Republican nomination contest. Candidates will finish Super Tuesday inflated or deflated to varying degrees, but no one will clearly win or clearly lose. 

The spectrum of GOP voters is too broad — from Southern evangelicals who won’t vote for a Mormon until they have to, to blue-collar midwestern workers whose first, second, and third concern is the economy; from social conservatives who are enthused only by the most passionate believer, to the traditional party regulars who still wonder whom the front-runner is.

Obviously, Romney, Santorum and Gingrich all have a natural foothold among certain geographic and ideological groups who will vote tomorrow. This means that who turns out will be important. 

In a low-turnout environment, Romney could have an advantage if his organization has been concentrating on early voting and turnout. On the other hand, passion and enthusiasm drives turnout, and Romney has been uneven at best with both of these.

Santorum has a core of social conservatives who comprise a different share of the vote in each of the states that will vote tomorrow. His vote totals will show us how far you can go in the Republican primaries in 2012 without a clear economic message. And Gingrich still appeals to many traditional Republican voters. Of course, Ron Paul will get his usual unique support. 

Tomorrow is important but not determinative. If Romney does better than expected — and no one that I’ve read has really been able to define what’s expected — then he could see more of the party leadership both endorse him and more boldly call for the other candidates to quit.  If he does less well than expected, then it’s more hand-to-hand combat and on to the next primaries.

P.S.: It's bad news for us that Steve Ricchetti is going to work for Vice President Biden. I'm hoping that Obama's leftist ideology will prohibit some of the practical, commensensical things he could do to aid in his reelection. Steve Ricchetti is a realist and a pro.  He will be a voice of rational political expediency. Drat. We are hoping for the opposite from the Obama White House.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.

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