03/08/2012 12:05 EST | Updated 05/08/2012 05:12 EDT

Mitt's SloMo Race to Victory

Presumably, Rick Santorum feels he performed better in the Super Tuesday primary sweepstakes than anyone expected, but it was Mitt Romney who gained the most delegates and inched closer to be the Republican nominee for president.

Although Romney won six of the 10 states' primaries and caucuses, he only clobbered the opposition in Massachusetts (where he was once governor), Virginia, and Vermont, and won an 11th hour squeaker in Ohio where Santorum made him look weak.

The next primaries and caucues are Kansas (Mar. 10), which Romney should win; Alabama (Mar. 13), which favours Newt Gingrich: and Missouri (Mar. 17), which is Santorum country for the moment.

So no knockouts are pending, even though Super Tuesday sounded Gingrich's death knell, if only he realized it.

Gingrich made something of an ass of himself in his Super Tuesday victory monologue after winning Georgia, which is his home state. True, he keeps bouncing back after setbacks and after many have given up on him. But he's going exactly nowhere in this GOP primary race, that has now narrowed to Romney holding off Santorum.

Oh yes, and Ron Paul chugs along as sort of comic relief -- perhaps the most forthright and candid of all the candidates, whose main libertarian appeal is that he spouts home truths, makes a lot of sense, and is wonky on international issues.

What the "race," (such as it is) is proving is that there's a real split among Republicans which will have to be healed (or cemented over) if their presidential candidate is going to have a real chance to beat Barack Obama come November.

What are loosely called the Evangelicals (or religious right) lean towards Santorum, who is too religiously inclined for many moderate tastes. Diehard conservatives, Tea Partiers, and social conservatives tend to like Santorum, but the biggest argument against him a the candidate, is the perception that he can't beat Obama.

And beating Obama has to be the top priority for Republicans -- and for those dismayed at how Obama has under-performed as president, periodically apologizing to the world for America's flaws, running up a monstrous national debt, failing to inspire the country in sorry economic times, and seeking to lead America by making declarations of intent rather than achieving much. A big disappointment to those who had high hopes.

Romney is widely acknowledged as the one most likely to make Obama a one-term president. But to many, Romney isn't as ideologically conservative as they might wish, although he's universally regarded as competent and decent -- and he bears no taint as a Washington insider, corrupted by surviving in that artificial environment.

The Republican establishment -- what there is of it, these days -- sees him as their best chance for power. The one they dread is Gingrich, who seems to have sidelined himself.

What's remarkable about Romney is these primaries, is how he can be lagging disastrously in some states, and then in the last week or 10 days before the primary, surge to overcome a 15-point deficit (as in Ohio) and win by a narrow margin.

But a win is a win -- 72% to 12% in Massachusetts is no greater a win than 38%-37% win in Ohio.

So the somewhat painful ordeal crawls on, with Romney edging towards the 1144 delegates which will guarantee him the GOP nomination.