It was a Super Scare, but Mitt Romney eked out a victory in Ohio, continuing an election-night tradition of eking narrow victories when he needs them.
On the raw mechanics of winning the primary, Mitt Romney dominated Super Tuesday, building strongly on his lead in the category that counts: delegates. And yet he won without the emotional satisfaction of a clean victory. He won ugly.
Nobody wants this bitter primary season to be over more than Mitt Romney, but the turning point his campaign was hoping for didn’t really materialize.
Romney won a clear majority of delegates awarded tonight — and holds a majority of the delegates already awarded for the Republican National Convention — but he is setting off warning bells for the general election by failing to galvanize the base of his party.
Romney won Ohio — a key state for Republican hopes of recapturing the White House — by about one percent, despite outspending his opponents as much as four-to-one.
His campaign will make the case that he’s winning the delegates needed to win the nomination — but he’s losing the inspiration primary. He can’t get voters excited.
More and more Republicans endorsers will flock to Romney over the coming days and weeks giving him more momentum, but what Romney needs is for the rank-and-file of the party to move in his direction. After two months of voting that still hasn’t happened. In Virginia, where only Ron Paul opposed him, he couldn’t break 60% of the vote.
“This campaign is his for the taking, but Romney won’t put this race away until he offers voters a purpose larger than his campaign provides them today,” GOP media strategist Alex Castellanos told BuzzFeed this week.
Romney sees his path to inspiring voters in drawing a contrast with President Barack Obama, something he has struggled to do with Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich threatening to overtake him as the GOP front-runner. His Ohio victory tonight earns him once again the title of sole front-runner, offering the opportunity to pivot back to Obama yet again.