The core of the conservative movement does not want to vote for this guy. Romney is good-looking, reasonably eloquent, has adopted almost every conservative position imaginable, and has mega-advantages in terms of money and organization.
But outspending Santorum by at least 4-to-1 or more in Ohio, Romeny just can't put the guy away.
As the National Journal reported after Romney's earlier narrow win in his self-described home state of Michigan, Romney keeps winning "ugly."
"In Michigan, it was less of a resounding victory for Romney than a near-miss of a humiliating defeat at the hands of a toppled senator from Pennsylvania who is to the right of the Republican mainstream and running a seat-of-his-pants campaign. And that was the easy part," it said.
As Republican consultant John Weaver put it after the Romney win in Michigan: "If Romney wins the nomination, it will be because he dragged the base kicking and screaming."
That's no way to win an election.
Santorum has emerged as the strongest of the non-Romneys, still standing after every mega-buck punch Romney throws because he has a genuine base of support among actual voters: tea partiers and social conservatives who will turn out and vote for him no matter what Romney does.
If Newt Gingrich would drop out, Santorum would win in a cakewalk, despite all Romney's money and organization. But Gingrich will not drop out, I predict, because Newt is really all about Newt.
Support Mitt Romney if you think he's the best candidate in this election. But the argument that he is somehow the most electable candidate we have has taken a hit in almost every election we have seen, including this week's Super Tuesday.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.