Growing weary of the battle for the GOP presidential nomination?

Tough luck.

Rick Santorum’s relatively strong night on Super Tuesday- as of this story, he won three states and came within a percentage point of a win in the closely-watched contest in Ohio – means that Mitt Romney has missed a huge chance to start wrapping up the GOP presidential nomination and focusing on President Obama.

To be sure, Romney is still the frontrunner for the nomination: He will wake up on Wednesday with more delegates than any of his rivals, along with a significant financial and organizational advantage over the rest of the field. According to exit polls, Republicans overwhelmingly continue to see Romney as having the best chance to beat Mr. Obama in the fall – and more than four in ten Ohio voters chose electability as the most important factor in their vote Tuesday. While CBS News is still estimating Romney’s delegate haul as well as that of his rivals, Romney’s big wins in Massachusetts, Virginia and Idaho netted him a big chunk of delegates in the race for 1,144 needed to win the nomination.

But Romney’s weak performance Tuesday renews questions about whether Republican voters will ever be able to warm to the former Massachusetts governor. Romney simply hasn’t shown the ability to break through and connect with a diverse coalition of Republican voters. Exit polls show that Romney struggled to attract very conservative, born again and evangelical voters; Ohio Republicans under 45 years old favored Santorum over Romney by double digits. Meanwhile, just 35 percent of Ohio voters who backed Romney said they “strongly favor” him.

Continue reading →