Delegate math shows Santorum and brokered conventions both out of the running soon

Delegate math shows Santorum and brokered conventions both out of the running soon

Summary: Does Santorum have any chance of making it? Will Mitt be able to close the deal sooner than the convention nominating ballots?

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TOPICS: Government
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After Tuesday's triple primary win for Mitt Romney in Washington DC, Maryland, and Wisconsin, more and more analysts are starting to declare the race over.

Officially, the GOP primary won't be over until one candidate reaches 1144 delegates. Mitt Romney is currently at 646, Rick Santorum has 270, Newt Gingrich has 135, and Ron Paul has only 71 delegates. None of the candidates is at the magic number.

On the other hand, while Romney only needs 498 delegates to score the nomination (meaning he's more than halfway there), Santorum needs a whopping 874 delegates to go into Tampa the presumptive nominee.

This leads us to two related math questions: (1) does Santorum have any chance of making it? And (2) will Mitt be able to close the deal sooner than the convention nominating ballots?

Let's play those out. I was pretty accurate with my guesses for March, so there's at least a small chance I can read the tea leaves for upcoming months.

See also: Not-so-super Tuesday, predictions for what comes next

For contests that are winner-take-all, my simulation will award all the delegates. For contests that are awarded by percentage, I'm going to take the easy way out and give 10% to Gingrich and Paul (combined), and split the remaining roughly 50%/40%, just to make things fair.

April 24 primaries

On April 24, we have Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Delaware, and Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania. These are all Northeast states, and they're likely to go for Romney.

Even so, since we were asking if there was a chance for Santorum, we'll give him the benefit of the doubt in Pennsylvania.

After this contest, Romney's at 764 and Santorum's up quite a bit, to 362. But he still hasn't hit the halfway point.

May 8 primaries

On May 8, we'll have West Virginia, North Carolina, and Indiana.

If this were February, we might thing North Carolina would go to Gingrich, but now, we'll give both North Carolina and West Virginia to Santorum. Indiana may be flyover country, but it doesn't have nearly the strong evangelical base that Santorum appeals to, and -- more important -- the economy is the most important issue, so we'll give Indiana to Romney.

Our scores end up Romney at 820 and Santorum at 426. Santorum still needs 718 delegates and there are only 801 still undecided -- including California and Utah, neither of which will Santorum win.

It's not over for Santorum, but the writing is definitely glowing brightly on the wall. Okay, fine, there's no way he can win. But let's still see if Romney can fully close the deal, or if chaos will reign at the convention.

May 15 primary

On May 15, Nebraska will go to the polls. We'll call Nebraska for Romney. This is a light news day, with only 35 delegates, but it may well be the day that makes it impossible for Santorum to win. Let's see, shall we?

Well, if Santorum is stubborn, he could still be in the game. There are 766 unallocated delegates, and Santorum needs 704. Unfortunately for him, Mitt Romney only needs 306.

The score stands at Romney with 838 and Santorum with 440.

May 22 primaries

There might finally be some good news for Rick Santorum, with Arkansas and Kentucky going to the polls. We'll award both states to him.

That brings Romney up to 866 and Santorum to 485.

May 29 primary

May 29 is a huge prize: Texas. On one hand, Santorum is likely to appeal here, especially since he got the endorsement of the other Rick, Texas governor Rick Perry. On the other hand, Texans may decide the writing is on the wall and go with Romney, wanting to see the general campaign kick off and the infighting stop.

In any case, for the purpose of the simulation, we'll award the larger percentage of the state to Santorum. It won't help.

In fact, even if Santorum wins Texas, he'll have had his last stand. The delegate math after Texas leaves 530 unallocated delegates, and Santorum will need 575.

After Texas, Santorum has 569 and Romney 922.

Wrapping up the map

There are more contests in June, but let's just wrap up the map with the big numbers. First, let's give Romney Utah, which not only is a winner-take-all state, but the home of Mormons.

Next, let's assign Romney New Jersey, also a winner-take-all state. Then, let's give Romney California with the usual proportions. He's almost there, with 1098 delegates to Santorum's 639.

We have South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, and New Mexico left. Just for kicks ('cause this won't happen), let's give Santorum the larger share of delegates. After all, Romney only needs 46 delegates for the nomination.

Okay, so here's where it's crazy. After awarding South Dakota, Montana, Oregon, and New Mexico to Santorum, Romney has 1136 delegates and needs 1144. So, if this were bizzarro world, there's a chance of a brokered convention. But once Santorum has no chance of winning, he's not going to get many delegates, and so there's virtually no chance of a brokered convention.

At this point, the only way Santorum, Gingrich, or Paul has a chance of winning the nomination is if we discover that Mitt Romney is carrying John Edwards' love child. Based on these projections, the only thing Rick Santorum has to look forward to is a gig on Fox News and the hope that if Obama wins a second term, the GOP will come crawling back to the Rickman. Nah, that won't happen, either.

Our answer

So there are your answers. First, Santorum can't win. Period.

Second, it is, technically, possible that Romney might not make the number of delegates he needs for nomination, but it's a fantasy possibility, especially since he'll be close to cinching the deal as early as the beginning of June.

Bottom line: The GOP nominee will be Romney. The math supports it.

ZDNet Government's coverage of Election 2012:

Topic: Government

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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7 comments
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  • In other words...

    ...In order for Santorum to get his brokered convention, he needs to win states he's not expected to, which means getting people other than fundamentalists and Tea Partiers to vote for him. After yesterday's results, that doesn't seem likely.

    I'd still like to see the convention decide the nomination, as it hasn't happend at a major party national convention since 1976 and history suggests that it doesn't hurt the challenging party at all (only the incumbent party), but I think you're right; it's not going to happen this year.

    Edit:

    Of the last four you mention, I think the only one where Santorum has a shot (unless he significantly broadens his appeal) is Montana. He blew whatever chance he had in New Mexico by shooting off his mouth in Puerto Rico. Oregon and South Dakota are both northern states where the New Right has never had much appeal.
    John L. Ries
  • What choices?

    The best the conservatives can do is a rich guy who had his own part in creating the GFC, a religious bigot and a repulsive, immoral, lady's man (I'll let you work out who's who). The only one with any principles is Ron Paul and he's crazy, but I'd still back him over the others.

    I've also never seen such lacklustre support for Mitt, even though he's obviously going to win. The Tea Party has a lot to answer for...
    tonymcs@...
  • Happier...

    IMHO, if Santorum would admit his homosexuality, he would be a happier person. The man doth protest too much, methinks.
    ITOdeed
  • Still likely...

    If we accept this delegate math, it is still possible to force a brokered convention since most of the delegates projected already are unbound.
    blinley66
    • It's possible...

      ...but unlikely. Barring a major collapse in his support, Mr. Romney will undoubtedly continue to win a large percentage (even if only a minority) of the delegates still to be awarded, even if his rivals won every remaining contest, which they won't.
      John L. Ries
  • A Modest Proposal

    I think the presidential campaigning season is way too long and while my preference would be to scrap primaries entirely, as they greatly inflate the length and expense of election campaigns, I think the following simple steps to be taken by agreement between the DNC and RNC would help enormously:

    1. Allow Iowa to hold its precinct caucuses on the last Tuesday in February. All other states would be allowed to hold theirs no earlier than the first Tuesday in March.

    2. Allow New Hampshire to hold its primary on the last Tuesday in March. All other states would be allowed to hold theirs no earlier than the first Tuesday in April. It might be better to delay the primary season another month (with the NH Primary on the last Tuesday in April), but that may be compressing things a little too much.

    3. All delegates must be selected before June 14 (Flag Day).
    John L. Ries
  • Santorum definitely not the candidate

    I just spotted this link courtesy of a Reddit post;
    http://www.businessinsider.com/report-santorum-dropping-out-2012-4

    If Business Insider is correct, then Santorum is done.
    use_what_works_4_U