The 2012 Republican Presidential race seems sure to be one of the most unique GOP nominating contests in recent memory.
In most of the recent campaigns, the ultimate nominee had managed to secure the mostly unified support of the Republican Party with decisive victories early in the process or on "Super Tuesday" - the first day of the contest in which a large group of states vote simultaneously.
And it is possible that Republican front runner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney could pull off a similar victory if his recent momentum from victories in Arizona and Michigan, combined with his organizational superiority over his remaining rivals, should prove sufficient to allow him to sweep the 10 states voting on March 6th
Should Romney secure such a sweep - or even if he only lost in a few of the smaller state contests - it might prove to be enough to persuade his rivals to drop out of the race to provide a unified Republican front against President Barack Obama.
Unfortunately for Romney, that seems an unlikely scenario, as the tenacity of his opponents as well as the state of the race and the calendar itself make it difficult for Super Tuesday of 2012 to be the knockout blow it has proved to be in the past.
First, there is the nature of the primary calendar to consider. Unlike in 2008, when 22 states voted on Super Tuesday, this year there are only 10 contests on March 6th, and even a sweep would leave Romney well shy of the 1,144 needed for the nomination.
Then there is the state of the race at this stage. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has emerged as the most recent of a number of leading challengers to Romney, is leading Romney in the polls in the key general election swing state of Ohio and in Tennessee.
Furthermore, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich polls ahead of Romney in his home state of Georgia - the state that will award the largest number of delegates of the Super Tuesday contests.
It should be noted that many analysts urge caution at drawing too firm a conclusion from polls of primaries for Super Tuesday for several reasons. First, polls of primaries in any state sometimes prove unreliable as it can be difficult to predict which voters will turn out to vote.
Secondly, unlike in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, there have been relatively few polls conducted in many of the March 6th contests, and the average of multiple polls over time has generally proved a better predictor of the ultimate outcome.
So, a Romney upset in the states in which he trails in the polls remains a possibility, even if it is one that is somewhat remote.
But if Santorum and Gingrich can claim some victories, it seems likely that what has already proven to be one of the most volatile Republican Presidential campaigns in recent memory will continue to march on.
by RTT Staff Writer
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