Ohio Headlines Super Tuesday
The national media has fawned over the significance that Ohio has to the often dragged-out primary system. Major outlets such as The New York Times, Politico and others have printed stories about Ohio being the end-all be all of Super Tuesday states. Rick Santorum called Ohio “Ground Zero” of the day, while candidates’ spending on the state has reached historic proportions.
Ohio isn’t the only state to hold a caucus or primary on Super Tuesday though, and it isn’t even the state with the most delegates.
If it weren’t for Newt Gingrich’s presence in the field, Georgia could be getting similar attention to Ohio in terms of money and candidates time. Georgia also has the most delegates to give out, 73. The state has not gotten as much attention as it could be though, with Gingrich polling double digits ahead of the field due to some home field advantage.
Virginia was also expected to be noteworthy, until Santorum and Gingrich both didn’t qualify for the ballot. The state is now overwhelmingly polling ahead for front runner Mitt Romney, who is expected to win the state decisively.
Other states holding contests on Tuesday are North Dakota, Alaska, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho and Vermont.
While all those state will have delegates to give away, none will have the cache like Ohio, where candidates have been touring the state and breaking the bank to clinch a victory.
Ohio is garnering the special treatment that an early state like Iowa receives when presidential primary campaigning starts up every four years. Thus far, roughly $6 million has been spent in the state from candidates or their super PACs. Mitt Romney alone has spent close to $4 million between his campaign and PAC, which continues to outpace the field by a wide margin.
Candidates have also been touring the state at a torrid pace since the beginning of February, with the front runners Romney and Santorum making last-ditch attempts to appeal to voters across the state. Santorum has aggressively been campaigning all over the state, but has focused on western and northeastern Ohio.
“He’s been up the entire western side of the state from Cincinnati to south of Toledo. There are a lot of Republicans along this western side. All the suburbs of Cincinnati, Lima; where he stopped today, Bowling Green,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to Politico. DeWine has been at the center of the action, with his surprising flip from supporting Romney to now being a Santorum supporter.
“It’s also important that he hit the Cleveland media market. While Cleveland is considered to be a Democratic area, there are more Republicans in that media market – not in the city, but in the media market – than there are any media market in the state,” said DeWine.
The Romney campaign has insisted that they will be strong in Cincinnati and the suburban Columbus area where white collar professionals who have come out to support Romney in the past are expected to again.
The electorate in the state has responded to the gravity of the race by a tightening in the polls as well. Santorum has lead the state in the last two Quinnipiac polls taken by the university, but late momentum has Romney surging.
The poll released on Monday, March 5 shows Romney has erased Santorum’s lead and currently leads the way with 34 percent. Santorum took 31 percent, but the telling thing is the momentum, which has clearly been on Romney’s side.
“To borrow from the book of Berra, Yogi that is: it’s déjà vu all over again for Gov. Mitt Romney. Just as he did in Florida and Michigan, Romney has erased a sizeable deficit a week before the primary to grab the momentum in the final 24 hours,” said Peter A. Brown on Quinnipiac’s website. Brown is the assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute.
“A week ago, Quinnipiac had Sen. Santorum ahead by seven points, now it’s Romney by three – a 10-point swing in seven days. The margin makes the Ohio race too close to call, but Romney is the one with the wind at his back,” said Brown.
Quinnipiac comparing Michigan to Ohio is bad news for Santorum, who could see his shoestring candidacy be put on life support by a loss to Romney in Michigan. Republicans who are weary of this prolonged race have even called for its conclusion if Romney wins Ohio.
“I think it’s gone on too long already. I think the party is beginning to coalesce behind Romney. If he wins Ohio that would go a long way toward making him the apparent nominee. If Romney can win there, that should make it pretty much over,” said Rep. Peter King from New York, who has not endorsed a candidate.
With the media circling the state for storylines, it is easy to get caught up in the Ohio hype. The reality is that Ohio does have a chance to crown the GOP nominee, and the candidates are treating the state that way. The outside spending aside, both Romney and Santorum will be in the state on Monday, to make a last- attempt to woo the most important voters in the country.
Newt Gingrich took 15 percent in the Quinnipiac poll, while Ron Paul took 12 percent.