Is Mitt Romney inevitable? Can Rick Santorum win the GOP nomination? Well, let's take a look at the calendar and find out.
2,288 delegates will attend the Republican National Convention. Meaning that a candidate needs 1,144 delegates to capture to nomination without a floor fight.
Let's start with the current state of the delegates:
Mitt Romney has secured 315 delegates, but with all results through last night included is projected to have a lock on 386 delegates.
Rick Santorum has secured 78 delegates, but with all results through last night included is projected to have a lock on 159 delegates.
Newt Gingrich has secured 105 delegates, but with all results through last night included is projected to have a lock on 120 delegates.
Ron Paul has secured 29 delegates, but with all results through last night included is projected to have a lock on 73 delegates.
So what happens if all the candidates stay in? Note I'm not a clairvoyant so these are best guesses. The one thing I'm certain of is that Ron Paul has already achieved his maximum number of delegates.
On Sat, Mar. 10, Santorum is going to kick Romney's ass in Kansas in the Kansas Caucuses and take home all 40 delegates bringing him to 199.This is winner take all. Neither Romney nor Gingrich is taking home any delegates.
On Tue Mar. 13 Gingrich is going to win both Alabama (50) & Mississippi (40), and on March 24 he'll take Louisiana (46), though the delegate math doesn't really favor more than modest changes in the overall count. This will probably add 80 to Gingrich, 38 to Romney, and 18 to Santorum.The bottom line is that Mittens will be mired around 25-30% here. Some people think Santorum could win one or more of these states, but I'm judging from Georgia Gingrich-Santorum split will be enough for Mitt to squeak past Santorum. If Santorum outperforms here and Gingrich doesn't win 2 or more states, then maybe Newt drops out.
Romney will probably sweep through the islands (73) taking Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Is., U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.If that happens (or Paul wins) no one will care because the media couldn't be bothered to cover the islands. Frankly I don't see Romney losing because neither Gingrich nor Santorum has the money or organization to contest the islands. OTOH if Santorum or Gingrich wins in one or more of these locations it will be big news because it will feed a narrative of a floundering Romney campaign.
Illinois (66) on Tue Mar. 20 will be the big prize and I'm sure the vote there will be a photo finish just like Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio with Romney eking out a win by outspending Ricky 11-1 with negative advertising.I'm figuring a 36-30 Romney-Santorum split, but if Gingrich drops out then Santorum wins the state and sweeps the non-Chicago districts and splits the 'burbs giving Santorum a 42-24 split.
Things should get back to form in April with Romney taking home all the delegates in Maryland (37), D.C. (19), and Wisconsin (42). Again, Wisconsin will be a photo finish like Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Ohio, but since it's winner-take-all the delegate needle will finally start moving strongly in Romney's direction.If Gingrich stays in, Romney sweeps. If Gingrich drops then Santorum takes Wisconsin so instead of a 631--247 Romney lead he's now at 583-295 over Santorum.
On Apr. 24 Romney will sweep through Connecticut (28), Delaware (17), Rhode Island (19), a majority of New York (95), but lose to Santorum in Pennsylvania (69).Gingrich dropping brings New York from a near Romney sweep to closer race, but Romney still wins the night and goes up 707-399.
On May 8 we're back to midwest photo finish territory with Indiana (46). North Carolina (55), and West Virginia (31) will be between Gingrich and Santorum as Romney has no hope in these two states.If Gingrich drops then Santorum could sweep this night to close to 736-502. If Gingrich stays in then Romney is the big winner because North Carolina and West Virginia are proportional and Mittens won't be hurt badly by losses in those two states.
On May 15 Romney returns to winning blue states with Oregon (28). But on May 22 Gingrich will take Arkansas (36) and Santorum Kentucky (45).All of these states are proportional, but I've allocated delegates as winner-take-all as I think the gains in one state will be losses in others. Now if Gingrich drops then Santorum is the big winner slowly closing the gap on Mitt 772-575.
The biggest prize will be May 29 and Texas (155). Romney should thank his stars that Texas isn't going winner-take-all.Gingrich dropping should help Ricky tremendously bringing him into shouting distance 808-694.
On Jun 1 Santorum should wrap up Missouri's 52 delegates that he clearly won in the February beauty contest.Or if Gingrich is gone Santorum is now in striking distance at 804-746.
Missouri voters should be pissed at their delegate selection process. A meaningless February 7 beauty contest, followed by meaningless March 15-24 caucus, followed by April 21 congressional district conventions, and June 2 state convention where the at-large delegates will be selected. By all rights Santorum should take home all 52 delegates due to his thorough won-every-county drubbing of Mittens in the primary, but Mitt could out-organize him and grab the delegates (see Michigan).
On Jun. 5 Romney still won't sew up the nomination when California (172) and New Jersey (50) award him all their votes, New Mexico (23) most of its votes, but he gets his ass kicked in the Great Plains again in South Dakota (28).Okay on what planet does South Dakota get more delegates than New Mexico and over half the delegates apportioned to New Jersey?
Gingrich, again, is the key, if Newt dropped back in March after failing to sweep the south then California is in play. I'm certain that Mitt, and his sugar daddies will carpet bomb the airwaves to ensure decisive California and New Jersey wins and Santorum simply won't be able to compete in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, or Philadelphia media markets. But while Mitt looks to win the big prizes, Rick sneaks away with all the delegates in New Mexico and South Dakota. But it'll take a floor fight for Rick to overcome a 1,026-797 Mitt lead.
And that leaves us with Nebraska (35), Montana (26), and Utah (40) to wrap it up.So if Newt stays in then Mitt wins the nomination in Utah and cedes Nebraska and Montana to Santorum.
But if Gingrich had dropped back in March then you can expect Mitt to be fighting for every delegate. Can you imagine a media carpet-bomb in Omaha, Lincoln, Scottsbluff, Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Glendive, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Missoula? Even then Mitt is just at 1,127 and needs Ron Paul's delegates to go over the top.