The seemingly never-ending primary race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination could potentially be settled Tuesday, as the residents of 10 U.S. states cast their ballots for one of the four remaining candidates.
Although the GOP candidates -- Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas -- have consumed a sizable portion of the national news cycles for months through the various surges, insults and gaffes that have defined the primary race, they did not have the media to themselves on Super Tuesday. President Obama, who has been slowly transforming himself into the campaigner that enthralled Democrats in 2008, held his first press conference in almost five months on Tuesday where he responded to a number of contentious issues and took an opportunity to wish Romney what the president seemed to believe was some much-needed luck.
Could it be a coincidence? Of course not.
As the GOP primary stretched into an almost year-long contest, polling suggests Americans are eager for the race
The GOP primary has stretched into an almost year-long contest, preceding at least another six months of additional campaigning against President Obama. In December, Gallup reported that 70 percent of Americans said they already couldn't wait for the 2012 campaign to end, a figure that is likely to increase if the Republican nomination isn't sealed in the near future.
Even though Americans indicated they'd prefer to fast-forward through the political drama to Nov. 6, a new poll from the Pew Research Center suggests the Obama campaign likely wouldn't mind if the GOP race stretches past Super Tuesday.
2012 GOP Nomination Process: Harsh
The venomous quality of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination process -- featuring attacks on initially innocuous subjects such as on the unemployed, the uninsured and the morality of birth control -- is rallying Democrats and even independent voters behind Obama. Forty-nine percent of Democrats polled said their impression of Obama has improved as they learn more about the Republican candidates, compared to just 36 percent who expressed that view before the primaries began in December.
Independent voters also expressed a slightly higher opinion of the president -- 17 percent compared to 14 percent in January -- even as Republican respondents' opinion of Obama continues to plummet. Republicans were also the only group to say their opinion of the GOP candidates has actually improved as they have learned more about the candidates.
All in all, Pew reports that about three-in-10 Americans say their impression of the Republican candidates has gotten worse with time, while only 12 percent say it has improved. A solid 50 percent said their opinion has not changed.
Of course, Democrats were always poised to come out in defense of Obama ahead of the November election. The difference is, Republicans may not be doing the same for their own candidate.
The remaining Republican candidates are not even particularly popular among their own party. Another Pew poll from late January found that more than half -- 52 percent -- of GOP-leaning respondents rated the field as either fair or poor, an eight point increase from another survey conducted earlier that month.
Romney, once again the presumed nominee, has also been losing the support of a demographic that essentially propelled him to the Massachusetts State House -- independents.
Some of the straggling Republican candidates could plausibly have their presidential ambitions dashed on Tuesday night. Either way, certain candidates -- particularly Gingrich or Santorum -- are likely to deliver a fresh round of complaints about Obama that could inflate the president even further in the eyes of his supporters.
If the day doesn't end with a clear winner, Obama may really have a cause to celebrate, as the American public is dragged through additional rounds of campaigning, pandering and attack ads that could continue to dampen their enthusiasm about the eventual Republican nominee.