I think last night was probably pretty close to what I would have considered to be the worst case scenario. Newt only won his home state of Georgia, Santorum won in Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Dakota and Romney took the rest (Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Ohio, Alaska and Idaho). I was hoping that Ron Paul would have been able to unite the not-Romney vote in Virginia and then take some of the small caucuses as his small devoted following could definitely tip the scales in states where a thousand votes can decide things. Imagine what the stories would have looked like this morning if Ron Paul had taken Virginia, Alaska, Idaho & North Dakota while Newt took Georgia, Tennessee & Oklahoma? People would have gone nuts, Santorum would have been all but finished and this race would be wide open. As it stands now, Romney has a near 100% chance of being the nominee. It would take a historically epic meltdown for him not to be. We'd practically have to find out that he is an active White Supremacist, had a sexual affair with Barney Frank and/or find out that he is, as many have suspected, an android (preferably all three) for him to be denied the nomination at this point. Money, organization and an automatic vote from Mormons (which helped flip usually very conservative western states to his side) have really proven to be insurmountable. The constant splitting of the conservative vote hasn't helped either. Santorum's strategy of sticking around, despite abysmal vote tally's after Iowa, to wait for Newt to be destroyed, has helped him vault to the #2 position but also seems to have helped Romney become the nominee. I'm sure Santorum supporters could say the same thing about Newt sticking around but I really don't think Santorum could unite the party like Newt. Santorum does well in states with lots of social conservatives while Newt has a more broad Reaganesque message which could potentially unite economic, social and foreign policy conservatives under one candidate.
I'm sure there will be some uber die hard Newt supporters who will attack me for not having enough faith. Yes, I realize that Newt is not to be underestimated and that people have left him for dead before but I just don't see how he can be the nominee at this point. We've had 23 contests and he has won a grand total of 2 of them. He's underperforming what Mike Huckabee did in 2008 at this point who had won 6 of the first 31 contests. Other than getting a nice big check from Fox to start his own show, Huckabee doesn't have much to show for that performance politically. Let's say Newt wins in Alabama and Mississippi. Then what? Santorum isn't dropping out, so how does Newt get victories outside the deep South? Heck, given his loss in Tennessee, which borders his home state of Georgia, I don't think even Alabama and Mississippi are done deals. The most he can hope for is a denial of a majority of delegates to Romney and a brokered convention. But the power brokers aren't going to go with Newt no matter what, they friggin hate him with a passion I've never seen. Plus historically they have favored a more moderate candidate at conventions anyway, whether or not they personally like him. In 1952, the very conservative Robert Taft got the shaft (with some delegates actually stolen from him at the convention) in favor of the RINO Eisenhower, who historically wasn't even a Republican. In 1980, these power brokers were trying to get a co-Presidency agreement between Reagan and Gerald Ford to water down Reagan's conservatism. If we have a brokered convention this year, we know Paul will go with Romney given his collusion with him this year anyway and Romney will walk away with the nomination one way or the other.
What about Santorum? He doesn't have much of a chance either. He just has very little appeal outside of social conservative heavy states. He just can't get to 1,144 without winning in the northeast and California and I find it hard to believe he will have a chance at that. And again, a brokered convention is not going to nominate someone like him.
It seems all that is left for me to do is to decide who to vote for in the fall. It definitely won't be Obama but it won't be Romney either (I decided that months ago). I've never voted for a liberal in my life and I am not starting now. The Libertarian Party might be getting another voter, despite my complete disagreement with them on foreign policy. At least they believe in small government, unlike Obama and Romney.
Cross posted from libertarian neocon's blog.