Voters in ten states, including Massachusetts, had their first chance to weigh in today on a Republican primary contest whose outcome has become increasingly less certain since it began in January.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney had been considered the party’s most likely nominee, but a series of setbacks and lost primaries have plagued his campaign in the weeks leading up to today’s ten contests, collectively known as Super Tuesday. Former Senator Rick Santorum has posed an increasing threat to what once seemed to be Romney’s inevitable nomination.
Political analysts said this week that they believe Romney is still the likely Republican nominee. His performance today will likely determine the course of the race in coming months, they said.
“There’s nothing definitive on the table except that Romney can get close to closing the deal,” Harvard Kennedy School lecturer M. Marty Linksy said about Super Tuesday.
“He’s got two things going for him. One is the symbolic strategy that would manifest itself if he won Ohio or Tennessee. The other is the numerical strategy if he came away with a lot of delegates,” Linsky said. The day’s results, he added, could allow Romney to numerically run away with the race.
But whatever the outcome, political analysts said they doubt the other Republican candidates will drop out of the race.
“Throughout the country, it will be enough of a mixed bag that every one of the candidates will be able to step up to the podium and in some way, shape, or form say it was a good night,” Republican former songressional candidate Joseph D. Malone ’78 said.
Republican political analysts said the Massachusetts primary does not hold much real significance nationally, as voters are expected to overwhelmingly support their former governor.
Republican consultant Todd Domke said Romney is well positioned to win the state by a landslide.
“It's a coronation of Mitt in his main home state,” Domke wrote in an email. “Romney is expected to win about two-thirds of the vote [...] and all of the delegates. The other candidates didn’t contest him here, so the outcome has never been in question.”
Despite Massachusetts’ lack of strategic importance, Romney will be back in his home state at the Westin Hotel in Boston tonight to make a speech after voting closes nationwide.
—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.