There are three competitive mega-contests on Super Tuesday. Virginia will give Mitt Romney at least 40 delegates, Oklahoma is far beyond the reach of anyone but Rick Santorum. That leaves us with Ohio, Georgia, and Tennesse, the rust belt and the new South. What sort of momentum does Mitt Romney have in these states?
Ohio: Rasmussen shows Romney rising from 24 to 31 percent; Quinnipiac has him rising from 29 to 31 percent. In Rasmussen, Santorum’s lead is slashed from 18 points to 2 points. Advantage: Romney.
Georgia: Rasmussen has Gingrich rising from a 5-point lead to a 12-point lead over the field; Survey USA shows him rising from +14 to +15. Advantage: Gingrich.
Tennessee: It’s hardly been polled at all, but the Tennessean/Vanderbilt poll has Santorum 18 points up on the field. Advantage: Santorum.
Romney has started to creep up in all three states. But this doesn’t look like John McCain’s post-Florida surge in 2008. This is a crawl. His Michigan win has not convinced Southern voters that they can trust him, or should trust him. Why does that matter? After Super Tuesday, the race heads to two Pacific votes (Hawaii’s caucuses, the Virgin Islands) and two Southern primaries: Mississippi and Alabama. This is why Newt Gingrich’s campaign keeps blowing off the questions about whether he’s doomed. How strong does Romney look if he gets creamed south of the Mason-Dixon line in every state where he has to compete with Santorum and Gingrich, and then he drops two more Southern primaries?