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Was Yesterday Super Tuesday?

11:08 AM, Feb 8, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Was yesterday Super Tuesday? Only three states had contests, and one was a beauty primary commanding no delegates. On the other hand, it was the first day in which there were races in more than one state, more delegates were selected yesterday than on any day of the primary season so far, and about 365,000 votes were cast.

Rick Santorum

More important, though, February 7 could prove to have been Super Tuesday if it turns out to be a key inflection point in the campaign. We'll see what happens in the days, weeks, and months to come. But if Mitt Romney's weaknesses persist—and especially if Romneycare turns out to be as formidable weapon as it now seems to be in the hands of Rick Santorum; if establishment figures like former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty and Missouri senator Roy Blunt continue to be unable to deliver votes in their states; if Santorum now passes Newt Gingrich in national Republican surveys, continues to do better than Gingrich (and than Romney?) in poll match-ups against President Obama, and over the next weeks becomes the conservative alternative to Romney; if national conservative and grassroots leaders (Sarah Palin?) and local ones in key states now rally to Santorum; and, above all, if Santorum can follow through with strong showings on February 28 in Michigan and/or Arizona—then February 7 will have proven to be a kind of Super Tuesday in its effects on the 2012 GOP presidential fight.

But the Romney campaign isn't without resources of all kinds, Santorum will now come under far greater scrutiny and assault, and Gingrich and Ron Paul will continue to play a role. We still do not know the outcome. Nothing is inevitable.

In case you believe in portents: On February 3, 2008, the New York Giants upset the heavily favored New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Two days later, John McCain won a sweeping victory on Super Tuesday, clinching the nomination and completing his upset comeback against the far better funded and organized Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. And Barack Obama rebounded from a decisive defeat in Florida the week before to hold his own against Hillary Clinton in the two dozen states that voted on Super Tuesday in 2008 (including victories in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado), putting him on a path to a long contest and ultimate upset victory. 

Could the Giants' repeat upset of the Patriots in last Sunday's Super Bowl have been a harbinger of another upset victory this year by an underdog over the well-financed establishment candidate? And I wonder if someone close to Mitt Romney muttered to himself about the his formidable-seeming operation, “Mitt can not ****ing throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times . . .”

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