The crucial battleground: Romney stakes all on a narrow victory in Ohio
As the frontrunner heads to the state that could make or break him, David Usborne joins him in Canton
On the eve of the biggest day yet in the race for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney toured a plant here that specialises in galvanising metres of steel in baths of molten zinc to make motorway guardrails. As a piece of campaign choreography it was neat: Team Romney is nothing if not galvanised.
There will be no clean sweep for the former Massachusetts Governor as Super Tuesday dawns today. Not quite half of the 10 states voting risk going to his rivals and Ohio, the most psychologically important of all them, remained hard to project with polls showing him in a dead heat with Rick Santorum. But after weeks of unedifying warfare, the muddle of the 2012 primary contests may be starting to clear somewhat.
"Gosh, we've just won five states in a row," Mr Romney boasted to a polite crowd of 200 in a warehouse of Gregory Industries, steel coils and struts around him. The wins included Washington State at the weekend. And suddenly, if belatedly, he is starting, he said, to garner "the endorsements of key Republicans across the country".
Mr Romney may win more delegates tonight than his three rivals combined. But there may still be blemishes with Mr Santorum and Newt Gingrich looking to hold bastions in the South. And there will be pain for sure if he loses Ohio, a critical piece of the American electoral jigsaw. A new Quinnipiac University poll showed him at 34 per cent to 31 per cent for Mr Santorum in the state.
This may be déjà vu in the making – a week ago Mr Santorum led decently here. But Mr Romney seems to be gaining crucial traction in the last hours to erase that deficit just as he did in January in Florida against Mr Gingrich and in Michigan last week against Mr Santorum. "The margin makes Ohio too close to call but Romney is the one with wind at his back," Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute, noted.
Nationally, Mr Romney is doing better, too. A Wall Street Journal/NBC survey saw him regaining the lead from Mr Santorum among likely GOP primary voters, thanks in part to growing support from conservatives. But the survey suggested the internecine primary contests have hurt the Republican field. It saw Barack Obama's approval rating jump to 50 per cent. In a head-to-head match-up today Mr Romney would lose to Mr Obama, 44 per cent to 50 per cent. The poll showed 40 per cent of Americans view Mr Romney unfavourably.
"The problem is they have just been giving ammunition to Mr Obama," said Greg Geraghty, 44, a boiler inspector who came to the Gregory factory to see Mr Romney for himself. Mr Geraghty was still undecided between Mr Romney and Mr Gingrich.
"I don't know why they don't see that and they can't somehow unite," he said.
Super Tuesday: the states that vote
Candidates need to secure the backing of 1,144 delegates at the Republican convention in the summer in order to take on President Obama in November. Tonight, they'll fight it out for delegates across 10 states.
Alaska 27 delegates
Georgia 76 delegates
Idaho 32 delegates
Massachusetts 41 delegates
North Dakota 28 delegates
Ohio 66 delegates
Oklahoma 43 delegates
Tennessee 58 delegates
Vermont 17 delegates
Virginia 46 delegates
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Chicago voter tells Obama 'don't touch my girlfriend' – Obama stays super smooth
Oscar Pistorius: The brutal prison life that awaits disgraced athlete
Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Ebola outbreak: Nowhere is safe until virus is contained in Africa, claims the top doctor who beat it in Nigera
Raphael Ravenscroft dead: 'Baker Street' musician who played the most famous saxophone solo for just £27, dies aged 60
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world
£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...
£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...