Mitt Romney boasts wins in 14 out of 22 GOP presidential nominating contests — including six of 10 contests on Super Tuesday — and most observers say his delegate count, the most crucial measure, is beyond reach by his chief rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. Yet despite his Super Tuesday performance, the media either declared the night a tie, or suggested that Romney emerged a loser, the sort of negative spin his campaign doesn't need. "Voters failed to deliver a decisive victory," The Wall Street Journal said. Meanwhile, The Atlantic's Molly Ball declared that Santorum "had clearly given Romney a bad scare" and could therefore "claim a moral victory." Politico's Alexander Burns asserted that Romney's performance cast "doubts about his strength as a candidate." Is Romney a victim of the media's determination to extend the primary season?
Without a doubt: That Romney's certain nomination is still depicted as endangered reflects the media's "bias in favor of conflict," says Dana Milbank at The Washington Post. That's why you have columnists and pundits urging Newt Gingrich to fight on. The situation also reflects the media's "antipathy towards this boring candidate." When Hillary Clinton attempted to drag out the fight in 2008, the media bullied her to abandon the quest, Obama clearly being their preferred candidate. That's not the case with Romney. As such, we've turned him into "Candidate Sisyphus." With each victory he earns, we give him more "boulders to push uphill."
"Believe it, Romney's a winner"
But it's time to face facts: The media is reluctant to take Romney seriously as the certain Republican nominee because he looks so weak for the general election, says Toby Harnden at Britain's The Daily Mail. But even though Mitt "hasn't been particularly stirring or inspiring" and may not defeat Obama, it's unfair to insist that he's weak. There's no scenario in which Santorum or Gingrich can catch up to him in delegates, and an alliance between Romney and one of his rivals is a more plausible scenario than a (potentially threatening to Mitt) brokered convention. "Sometimes winning counts for something — and the rest is just commentary."
"Slouching towards victory? Mitt Romney wins six on Super Tuesday but gets labelled a loser"
Don't just blame the media: The GOP itself is just as culpable, says Meteor Blades at Daily Kos. The party re-engineered the primary calendar to set up a tense battle like Obama and Clinton's in '08, "encourage more donations, build enthusiasm among voters, and keep attention focused on the GOP message." Instead, the field of contenders ballooned, traded gaffes, and relentlessly swapped frontrunner status. Then there's "the party's dreadful candidates." Maybe it's the voters who have been stretching the primary season out, desperate for someone to emerge worth supporting.
"GOP critics blame drawn-out primary calendar they re-engineered for the problems they now face"