Mitt Romney scored a monster victory on Tuesday, one so decisive that it may finally convince Republicans that their primary race has already been decided.
The campaign so far has been a contest between Romney and a gaggle of opponents all vying to be the anti-Romney candidate. But for the first time the vote totals of those who simply aren't Mitt, don't combine to give their side a victory. In a large diverse sample of Republican voters (independents were not allowed in the primary) Romney won convincing victories in key demographics, even among Tea Party voters. After slamming his opponents with an overwhelming onslaught of ads, Romney's victory was "total" and the tide appears to have turned in his favor for good.
The only person who doesn't seem to have noticed that is Newt Gingrich. The prevailing story line is that Gingrich just needs to hang on until Super Tuesday, where Southern state primaries will give him a chance to rack up some victories and get back in the race. But that's five weeks from now. The first week features four contested events — all caucuses, where manpower and organization put Gingrich at a huge disadvantage and he's unlikely to earn any first-place finishes. Then the campaign goes dark for two whole weeks. There are no debates between now and February 22 and then — a whole week after that —two primaries where, once again, Gingrich is not expected to win. Forget momentum, Gingrich will struggle to even get his name in the paper this month. Unless he wants to talk more about pie-in-the-sky (or moon) ideas that make him a punchline.