The cable news pundits seem to believe that Mitt Romney remains the all-but-inevitable Republican presidential nominee. This may be the preconceived narrative, but like a pretty teenage girl with several suitors, each vying to be the one to take her to the prom, the GOP primary stubbornly refuses to fall in line with the script.
Romney clearly has had a tough time convincing conservatives and tea party voters — a significant part of the Republican base — that he is worthy of their support. These voters have every reason to be skeptical, in view of the fact that the former Massachusetts governor laid the groundwork for President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law.
Romney has had to fend off Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich in several primaries, including an incredibly close race last week in Michigan, the state of Romney’s birth and in which his father served as governor. Tomorrow, “Super Tuesday,” will afford us a clearer picture of the race as voters in 10 states — including Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia — go to the polls.
Considering how unusual this primary season has been, it’s hard to guess how Super Tuesday will turn out. Polls in Ohio show the race tightening between Santorum and Romney, who has vastly outspent the Republican field in that state. The same can be said for Tennessee, where Santorum was leading comfortably but now only holds a small advantage.
Gingrich continues to be a factor in the race. He holds a significant lead in his home state of Georgia and stands to make a strong showing in a number of other states tomorrow. If the feisty former speaker can pull out an upset or two, he will be back in the thick of the battle for the GOP nomination.
And while Ron Paul has shown considerable staying power, his role now seems to be serving as an agitator for Romney rather than as a candidate making a serious run for the presidency.
No matter the outcome on Super Tuesday, it is unlikely the race will end anytime soon. And why should it? The continuing process offers voters a robust opportunity to find out just how good these Republican contenders are. More importantly, the process gives the GOP an opportunity to keep its message of contrast with the big-government administration of Barack Obama front and center. Let the dance continue.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He provides regular commentary to Daily Caller readers.