Super Tuesday is behind them but the US race for the Republican presidential nomination remains full of suspense, as each key candidate is still determined to get ahead.
Ten states were at stake. Front-runner Mitt Romney, the centrist with the richest and best-organised campaign team took six of them.
This biggest prize was Ohio, which he won only narrowly. He also triumphed in his home state of Massachusetts. But Romney did not put enough distance between him and the competition to be seen as the inevitable nominee in the long run.
Further to the right, Rick Santorum convinced the voters in three states. That is thanks, largely, to his popularity with practising church-goers, the more conservative-minded.
Yet far from bringing more clarity to the race, as many Republicans had hoped, Tuesday’s primaries gave the candidates cause to keep driving.
Newt Gingrich won in Georgia, the state he has represented for many years.
Romney has the lion’s share of delegates, who will choose the ultimate candidate at the Republican convention in August. But that nominee will require 1,144 delegates to become eligible to run against Barack Obama for the United States presidency in November.
If Gingrich decides he will not go on at some stage, then Santorum is expected to redouble his efforts.
This being Romney’s second shot at the nomination, he is sure to give it his all to rally the party behind his candidacy.
The day after the Super Tuesday votes were tallied, euronews spoke with a professor of government at Harvard University, Jeffry Frieden, who agrees there may still be some unpredictable turns in the road ahead.
Adrian Lancashire, euronews: What’s your interpretation of Super Tuesday’s results?
Frieden: I think the big news was Ohio. Many of the other states, most of the other states, fell as was expected: Gingrich was expected to take Georgia and Romney of course expected to take his home state of Massachusetts and Vermont nearby. Ohio was the big state in play. The good news for Romney was that he won Ohio. The bad news for Romney was that he barely won Ohio. It was close enough to keep Santorum clearly in the mix, for the remainder, at least for the close remainder of the primary season. So the take-home point, I think, is that Romney remains in the lead and remains the favourite but the results were good enough for Santorum and for Gingrich to keep both of them in the race. So the race will go on.
euronews: Some nomination races show a clear-cut outcome early on, but this one is more suspenseful; in the end, which sort tells us more about the Republican nation?
Frieden: I think this primary season has told us an enormous amount about the Republican party, and about those people who are either activists within the Republican party or sympathisers of the Republican party. What it has told us is that the Republican party is very fragmented. On the one hand you have a very large core group of extremely conservative activists – whether they are in or around the Tea Party or not – people who are on the right wing of the Republican party who simply are not happy about a candidate who tends towards the more moderate positions, such as Mitt Romney. So, on the one hand we have a party with a very, very strong – stronger I think than it has ever been – extreme right wing. On the other hand we have a party whose leadership at least – and many of whose members – would like to win in November, and who realise that a candidate who is too far to the right has no hope of gaining independent voters. The important swing voter is in the crucial states where the election will be fought out. So, this is a Republican party that faces some very serious dilemmas and is extraordinarily fragmented.
euronews: Where should we look for the next possible surprise?
Frieden: Well, the next big primaries are in the south – Mississippi and Alabama, I believe. I think the big surprise there would be if Gingrich wins those states. Now, Gingrich present himself as being particularly popular in the South. Santorum can give him a run for his money because Santorum appeal to the very conservative voters in the South. Most of the analysts figure that Santorum is likely to do very well in these southern states. But if Gingrich does particularly well, if Gingrich wins those states and wins it definitively, in a big way over Santorum, I think Gingrich is back in the race. At this point there was no question that Gingrich was not going to win Georgia. It was clear that he was going to win his home state of Georgia. If he had lost Georgia, he would have been out definitively, but he really is a marginal candidate. If he comes back strong in the southern primaries, then Gingrich… then it’s a three-person race, as opposed to what it is now, which is largely a two-person race. So I’d be looking at the southern primaries to see if Gingrich can bring himself back into the mix.