"He'll come out of Super Tuesday with a much more commanding lead than he went into it with," Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has endorsed Romney, said on Fox News this afternoon.
McDonnell, a potential candidate for vice president, said he wished Santorum and Gingrich were on the ballot to make the vote more competitive, but that "if you're going to be the president of the United States, you ought to be able to get 10,000 signatures."
"It's unfortunate they didn't make it, but that's the rules," McDonnell added.
Still, the numbers game reflects the long shift that Romney has made from the seemingly inevitable nominee to a student of delegate math. While he's still the favorite to capture the nomination, his focus on the general election has been distracted by Santorum's and Gingrich's alternate rises.
Ideally for Romney, Super Tuesday will bring about a hint of finality to the primary campaign and let him fix his sights squarely on Obama.
But many of the next big primary contests are in the South, a weakness for Romney and a strength for Santorum (and Gingrich). Kansas, with 40 delegates, votes on Saturday; Alabama, with 50, and Mississippi, with 40, vote next Tuesday; and Missouri, with 52, votes March 17.
"If you don't win the South, you don't win the nomination," Sue Everhart, the chairwoman of Georgia's Republican Party, told ABC News.