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 hasdrawn 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.  

Daily Meme: The Health Care Flip-Flop Melee

  • Romney, December 11 debate: “Speaker Gingrich said that he was for a federal individual mandate. That's something I've always opposed.”
  • Romney, January 23 debate: "I do not support a federal mandate. I do not support a federal one-size-fits-all plan. I believe in the Constitution."
  • Santorum on Saturday: “Gov. Romney has been saying throughout the course of this campaign, ‘Oh, I never recommended that they adopt my program in Massachusetts for an individual federal mandate, oh I never did that.’ Oh yes he did."
  • Indeed he did.
  • In fact, Romney called for a mandate twice.
  • No, make that three times.
  • Romney campaign today: “Governor Romney has never advocated for a federal individual mandate. He believes in the Tenth Amendment and, as a result, has always said that states should be free to come up with their own health care reforms.”
  • But wait! Here’s Santorum in 1993: "I believe that the federal government should set up a system where we create the right incentives for you to make efficient choices. ... I take a much more proactive position in government in solving problems than most Republicans, because I believe government has a role. A lot of folks believe, 'Well, just keep government out of it.' I don't believe that."
  • And here’s Santorum in a debate last November: "I was always for having the government out of the health care business.”
  • And here’s Santorum today: "People are starting to realize that what you have with Governor Romney is someone who is simply not a genuine article, he's not someone you can trust on the issue of big government."

What We're Writing

  • Jamelle Bouie sizes up Romney’s real problem on health care: He believes in reform.
  • Abby Rapoport looks at tomorrow’s other big Ohio primary: The fierce battlebetween redistricted Ohio progressives Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur.

What We're Reading

  • Romney wins the non-binding Washington state caucus, with Ron Paul second and Santorum third.
  • Barbara Bush robocalls for Romney, but leaves out a scripted swipe at Obama.
  • Ezra Klein: Political corruption isn’t just about money.
  • MAD magazine quiz: “Who said it? Mitt Romney or Mr. Burns?”
  • Maybe Karen should be the Santorum running for president.
  • Obama’s Ohio organization is already outpacing Romney’s.

Poll of the Day

Obama leads Romney among Latinos by a 70-14 margin in a Fox News Latino poll.

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