At this point on Super Tuesday, more and more results have come in and been (close to) finalized, although it may still take me a while to describe everything that has happened. The night's most fascinating contest, Ohio, remains unresolved.
But from one of the nation's most liberal states, I will go to one of its most conservative: Oklahoma. Classifying the states into regions is an endless and thankless task, especially in the case of Oklahoma, which could be viewed as a Southern state, a Great Plains state and perhaps a Western State. I have never been to Oklahoma, and other than its history of conservatism, I don't know much about its quirks of politics and demographics.
In the week before the contest, the spotlight wasn't on Oklahoma. For various reasons, Ohio was the most contested of Super Tuesday states, and not much attention was paid to Oklahoma. Rick Santorum, generally considered the most conservative candidate was expected to do well there, although how well was not known.
And now it is: with 98% of the vote reported, Rick Santorum has indeed won, with 33.8% of the vote. Mitt Romney is behind with 28% of the vote, and Newt Gingrich is narrowly behind him with 27.5% of the vote. Mitt Romney did well in one county, Oklahoma County, where Oklahoma City is located. Otherwise, Santorum carried most of the states counties with a smattering of counties for Gingrich.
Oklahoma (along with Tennessee was a big win for Santorum, showing that outside of the Deep South, most of the nation's conservative areas will probably follow him. And since the delegate allocation rules give more support to states that have elected Republican office holders in recent years, this is good news for him.
On the other hand, it also is not great news. One of the problems with Romney's campaign is that while he has won many states, he usually wins them by narrow pluralities. This is often used as evidence that he lacks a natural coalition. But the same is true of Santorum: if Romney can win with 70% of the vote in Massachusetts, Santorum should be able to win with 70% of the vote in Oklahoma, a very conservative state. Or at least 60%, or even 50%. But Oklahoma, which should be Santorum's home ground, was essentially a three way tie.
So what I take away from Oklahoma, as well as the night's other contests, is that while Santorum can do well in conservative areas, he is still not able to dominate them totally. This is another result that leads me to believe that the state of the race after tonight will be much like it was before tonight.