AMERICAN POLITICS

by 8 Degrees of Latitude

From the American Prospect (Monday, March 5) on Super Tuesday. A fine little aide-memoire:

 

CORONATION TUESDAY

Super Tuesday once was super. Progressives of a certain age will never forget the fun of the first edition in 1988. Conservative Democrats had dreamt up a March day of nine Southern primaries that would guarantee no “unelectable” liberal could win the party’s nomination. The geniuses forgot, though, that most Southern Democrats were not actually white moderates or conservatives. The scheme backfired spectacularly, with the Reverend Jesse Jackson emerging as a viable contender and Michael Dukakis also faring well. Since then, the role of Super Tuesday has been considerably more banal: It almost always clinches the nomination for at least one party’s frontrunner. Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Al Gore, John Kerry, and John McCain all guaranteed their spots atop the party ticket with strong performances. Maybe this thing should be rechristened “Coronation Tuesday.”

Leading up to tomorrow’s 10-state version, it seemed unlikely that Mitt Romney would follow that trend. But the air appears to have gone out of Rick Santorum’s insurgent campaign, and Romney’s victory in Michigan last week and in Washington’s caucuses on Saturday has created the possibility. In Ohio, the most closely contested state, Romney has drawn even with Santorum after trailing by double digits. In Tennessee, where Santorum also held a big lead last week, Romney has closed the gap—thanks in part to a million-dollar advertising blitz by the Restore Our Future PAC. If Romney wins those states and the other six he’s expected to carry, limiting Santorum to a victory in Oklahoma and Newt Gingrich to a home-court win in Georgia, it could be all over but the shouting when the dust settles—and the increasingly antsy Republican establishment will, unlike the conservative Democrats who started this whole exercise, get what they so devoutly desire.


SO THEY SAY

“Unenthusiastic,” “discouraged,” “lesser of two evils,” “painful,” “disappointed,” “poor choices,” “concerned,” “underwhelmed,” “uninspiring,” “depressed.”

Responses when NBC/Wall Street Journal pollsters asked Americans to describe the Republican presidential race in a word or phrase. Seven in ten responded negatively.