Steve Deace

The first warning flags that Mitt Romney may not be the strong general election candidate the Republican Party establishment sold him as were spotted on March 6th, otherwise known as Super Tuesday.

Though numerous states held contests that day, it was Ohio that was considered the big prize. Rick Santorum had almost defeated Romney in Michigan, one of his home states (it was so close they essentially split the delegates). With Santorum surging in Oklahoma and Tennessee, Newt Gingrich poised to win his home state of Georgia, and Virginia written off after most Republican candidates failed to qualify for the ballot, all eyes were on the Buckeye state.

Especially since no Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio.

With an army of nationally-known conservative leaders lining up behind him, and several conservative southern states still to come on the primary calendar, Ohio was Santorum’s shot to upset the party establishment’s best laid plans if he could win the crucial battleground state.

And he almost did.

Despite being out-spent in the state 10-to-1, Santorum lost Ohio by just 10,288 votes in a primary with more than 1.2 million voters. Why was that election so close, and how was Romney able to win?

The state of Ohio has 88 counties, but Romney only won 19 of them on primary night. Romney won the Ohio primary although he won just 22% of the counties in the state. It’s where Romney won that tells the tale.

Romney won Cuyahoga County by 16,029 votes. Romney won Hamilton County by 15,653 votes. In other words, Romney’s margin of victory in those two counties was over 50% higher than his overall margin for victory in the whole state. If you were to remove those two counties from the total tally, Santorum would’ve won Ohio by over 21,000 votes—or twice what Romney actually won the state by. And had Santorum won Ohio, Romney might not be the nominee today.

Steve Deace

Steve Deace is syndicated nationally by the Salem Radio Network each weeknight from 9 p.m.-Midnight eastern. His radio program has been featured in major media such as Fox News, CBS News, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, The Weekly Standard, and Real Clear Politics among others. He's one of the top 100 talk show hosts in America according to Talkers Magazine. In 2013 he wrote the second-most shared column of the year for USA Today, defending "Duck Dynasty" and traditional American values. In addition to being a contributor for Conservative Review, USA Today, and Town, Deace is a columnist for The Washington Times. He is also the author of the book "Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again," which includes a foreword by David Limbaugh and is endorsed by a who's who of conservative leaders. He lives in Iowa with his wife Amy, and their three children: Ana, Zoe, Noah You can follow him on Twitter @SteveDeaceShow.