By Gel Santos Relos
They all have one goal: to beat Barack Obama in the general elections in November.
The question is: who, among these four remaining Republican presidential candidates, can convince voters that he is the man they should elect to be the GOP nominee?
In the United States, we vote indirectly for the candidates we want to be President and Vice President. This is in contrast to the direct election through popular vote, by which we cast for the members of US Congress, or the way we elect our leaders in the Philippines.
When citizens go to the polls during the primaries and causes to vote for their candidate for President, they are actually electing delegates that correspond to their favored candidates.
Each party determines how many delegates are allocated to each state. These delegates, in turn, select their party's presidential nominee during the national convention. This year, the Republican nominee will be officially chosen during the Republican national convention in Tampa Florida on August 27 - August 30, 2012.
There are a total of 2,286 delegates to be chosen. The magic number number, therefore is 1,144 delegates -- representing the majority vote among the delegates sent by voters to the national convention.
So far, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Arizona, and Washington states would all have finished their polls before THE one big contest of them all-- Super Tuesday.
Super Tuesday this year is set on March 6, 2012, and will cover elections in Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.
During Super Tuesday, almost one-third of the total number of delegates will be at stake. More delegates can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day of the primary elections calendar, and, therefore, candidates seeking the presidency traditionally must do well on this day to secure their party's nomination.
Since Super Tuesday primaries cover a large number of states located in geographically and socially diverse regions of the nation, Super Tuesday may be deemed as a presidential candidate's first test of national electability.
Convincing wins in Super Tuesday primaries have usually catapulted candidates to the party’s nomination. These victories give candidates the momentum, bragging rights, and campaign donations to fuel their victory in the succeeding primaries in other part of the country.
The concluded contests leading up to Super Tuesday had been a very exciting and nail biting process, so far. Despite Mitt Romney’s edge in the polls prior to the primaries, the actual elections have proven he has not sealed the deal yet with Republicans.
In fact, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have both defeated him in the polls, negating the inevitability of a Romney nomination.
Romney’s case has always been anchored on the claim that he is the candidate most likely to beat President Obama in November, given his business background and supposed appeal to independent voters.
But the course of the primary season has seemed to have weakened his case, as indicated by recent national polls showing Obama beating Romney, if the elections were held today. Furthermore, polls showed also that more independent voters have gravitated to Obama.
Analysts say that the three other candidates who are still standing and fighting weakens Romney, as the debate pushes him more to the extreme right.
Rick Santorum’s surge fueled more debates on social issues, which has not been Romney’s strength because of his reputation as a moderate Republican. His wavering and ambivalent stand in abortion, contraception, immigration, gay marriage, etc has repeatedly been questioned -- pushing Romney to defend his “severly conservative” position on issues.
Romney’s Health Care program (when he was still Governor of Massachusetts) has been his achilles heel, pounded on by Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul as the inspiration of Obama Care -- a very unpopular program among Republicans, which is considered another example of big government infringing on state jurisdiction and individual liberties.
All of these sound bites of Romney pandering to the extreme right may win him the Republican nomination but may cost him the Presidency in the general election, turning off independent voters.
The debates and the negative ad wars have also been reported to dampen the enthusiasm and motivation of Republican voters to come out in vote in the primaries, and presumably in the general elections, as many of these voters feel no compelling love for any of these candidates.
We wonder how long the Republican contests will last after Super Tuesday, as the remaining four candidates vow to continue fighting until the Convention in August.
And if the economy continues to get better as we all hope it will, the inevitability of an Obama re-election becomes more certain.