The Road to 1144
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
It seems to be getting more and more complicated for Mitt Romney as he and his team struggle to find a combination which can bring him to the Republican Convention in Tampa at the end of August with 1144 delegates. He nibbles along picking up delegates and now has 495 of the 926 or 53% of the delegates selected. Romney still needs 649 or 47% out of the 1358 delegates remaining.
While it is unlikely that Santorum can approach the 1144 number, it seems quite possible that if the drift away from Romney continues in some of the battleground States, that Santorum—plus Gingrich and Paul– could actually prevent Romney from getting the nomination before Tampa. For Romney, there remains the possibility to make some leaps ahead with large bloc wins of delegates who are up in several of the “winner take all” States. If Santorum, however, were to grab one or more of those States it could truly put Romney’s entire campaign in jeopardy. Santorum also will not want to keep the Gingrich campaign viable in the “winner take all” States where he might be able to defeat Romney if there is only one choice for the Party’s conservative base. At the same time he will want Gingrich around in the other States where Gingrich’s will win delegates who, in Gingrich’s absence, might move to Romney.
Furthermore, for Santorum it is becoming clear that winning is producing results in money and support. Victories in Alabama and Mississippi—beating Gingrich and with Romney third—make him appear even more viable to voters in the next round of States, despite the fact that even Romney’s third place finish last night still delivered delegates to his candidacy. This winning also produces momentum for Santorum and his followers as they look to Missouri on Saturday and then Illinois next Tuesday. If Santorum could produce wins there, it would probably really upset the Romney plan and would make a brokered convention become more and more likely.
Finally, the very confused and mixed poll results released over the past several days suggest that the President’s re-election—if he runs against Romney—might be looking much stronger than had been anticipated. Assuming a continuation of economic news in the same direction as seen most recently should indeed offer positive signals for an Obama win in November; unless gasoline prices truly go through the ceiling.