The Campaign Spot

Mitt’s Got Trouble. Right Here in River City.

From the . . . Super Wednesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

A Super Tuesday Stupor?

It didn’t take much — just my vote! — to jinx Mitt Romney.

This was not such a super Tuesday for Romney. Sure, he won Virginia — but he was supposed to, it was a head-to-head matchup with Ron Paul. Sure, he won his home state, Massachusetts, and a 17-delegate New England state in Vermont. Ohio was his big win, and he needed it . . . but he won by one percent, about 12,000 votes, at this hour.

The losses in Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma themselves aren’t bad, but Romney’s share of the vote is pretty disappointing: 26 percent in Georgia, 28 percent in Oklahoma, 28 percent in Tennessee. Throw in 24 percent in North Dakota.

I suppose he and his team can boast that they won Idaho (62 percent, even more than in Virginia) and Alaska (32 percent, 3 percentage points over Santorum).

But after last week’s big wins in Michigan and Arizona, we were supposed to see signs of the party starting to unify around Romney. Instead, the frontrunner has a problem with the Midwest and South that is keeping him at less than 3 in 10 right now. That was good enough for second place in most of these states, but that’s still setting a low bar — beat out Ron Paul and, in most cases, Newt, who is becoming an afterthought. (More on this below.) Sure, Romney had a great night in terms of delegates. I stand by my assessment that his road to the nomination is the hardest, except for all of the others. But he’s still got glaring weaknesses in connecting with people. Maybe it’s the Mormon issue. Maybe it’s his background. But I think the “brokered convention yields a surprise nominee” talk just got a new jolt of energy this morning.

As for Newt, I received this message from his campaign at 8:49 last night:

This is Herman Cain and I am writing to tell you that my good friend Newt Gingrich is back! So many times in this presidential campaign, the elites in the liberal media and the establishment have written off Newt Gingrich. But thank to support of conservatives like you, Newt won an impressive victory tonight. He won Georgia, the state with the most delegates on Super Tuesday. He’s got the momentum right now. Now Newt needs our help to keep it rolling. Will you join us?

Er . . . he won his home state. That’s kind of a given for most candidates. Based upon that, he’s back?

Newt’s total votes in North Dakota, as of this hour, with 76 percent of caucus precincts reporting: 962. Astoundingly, he’ll get 2 delegates out of that, based on CNN’s projection.

Permit me to share a series of thoughts offered by Patrick Ruffini on his Twitter feed:

We have created this thing where there is money in speaking to the conservative subculture that conservatives can’t speak to the country. When you can make a decent living off Fox appearances and book contracts, you aren’t going to change when you run for President. There is strikingly little thought given to applying conservative principles to the median voter. That doesn’t mean compromise. Compromise is unnecessary because voters don’t care about ideology. Rather its selling yourself as one of them. Success lies in selling whatever ideology you have as moderate, sensible and normal. That is the essence of politics. Reagan was a conservative. You know what he also was? A salesman.

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