Winner: John McCain
Senator John McCain was badly wounded in war decades ago, and in the past he's been hurt politically with his support for the war in Iraq today, but Wednesday he savored a hard-fought victory.
Senator John McCain has come out of Super Tuesday with a clear lead over the Republican field.
The Vietnam vet won more than twice as many delegates as his competitors in the Super Tuesday Republican primaries and caucuses.
But he still has a battle ahead -- the Republicans are divided between security conservatives (worried about terrorism and Iraq), social conservatives (who oppose abortion and gay marriage) and fiscal conservatives (who want small government and low taxes).
Republicans are still voting along those three lines and McCain needs to unite the party.
The Democrats didn't have one clear winner; their results gave both of their candidates reason to claim victory.
Senator Barack Obama won a majority of the states, but Senator Hillary Clinton won bigger states and the delegate count was very close, even as the party tried to figure out its complicated maths of who won what, where.
Loser: Mitt Romney
The Super Tuesday primaries across the United States offered prizes to almost all of the candidates -- only one man was left looking short-changed.
Mitt Romney, the Mormon tycoon who has invested millions of his own money running for president, was left in the unenviable position of denying he would drop out.
Romney did win his home state, Massachusetts, the heavily Mormon state of Utah and a few others.
But after personally spending a reported $35 million, he was the clear laggard in the three-man Republican race behind Senator John McCain and former governor Mike Huckabee.
Romney tried to paint McCain as a "moderate," and position himself as the "true conservative" in the race, but Huckabee is working that segment of the party too, splitting their share of the vote.
Small wonder that, two days after Super Tuesday, Romney withdrew from the contest.
After Super Tuesday, it looks like a sprint for the Republicans, moreso after Romney's withdrawl, and a slog for the Democrats.
John McCain still has several primaries to go before he can collect enough nominating convention delegates to be sure he'll win -- right now he's got about half.
But that is the direction the Republicans seem headed. Their history suggests they are a party that likes to rally quickly around an acknowledged front-runner.
The Democrats are in exactly the opposite position, with a two-candidate race that looks essentially tied.
Only one thing forces a campaign like that to end -- running out of money.
But Barack Obama's fundraising surged to $32 million last month. And Hilary Clinton brought in $13.5 million.
Expect both to continue until their money or their hopes are exhausted. E-mail to a friend
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