First Thoughts: Unable to pull away
The answer to that question continues to come down to ideology. According to the exit polls in Ohio, Santorum easily won among very conservatives (48%-30%) and overall conservatives (41%-35%), while Romney won the other ideological subgroups (somewhat conservatives, moderates/liberals). Santorum won Tea Party supporters (39%-36%), while
Why is Romney unable to pull away
Romney won Tea Party detractors (45%-30%). And Santorum ran up the score with evangelicals (47%-30%). Given that kind of very conservative resistance we’ve seen in other contests -- Iowa, South Carolina, Michigan, and Ohio -- it’s a tribute to Romney that he remains on track to winning the GOP presidential nomination. But it also explains why he’s unable to pull away from his under-funded and less-organized opposition.
The good news for Romney: He increases his delegate lead
So that’s the bad news for Romney. The good news for him is the delegate score from last night. Here are our projections how the delegates will split: Romney 219, Santorum 97, Gingrich 82, Paul 22. And overall (with those projections), it’s Romney 338, Santorum 114, Gingrich 112, and Paul 30. But if it’s only about delegates, then consider this: It’s
likely that Romney won’t be able to get the necessary 1,144 needed to capture the nomination until late May or even afterwards, if Santorum and Gingrich stay in the race. And that race would continue 1) as the battleground moves next week to the non-Romney-friendly states of Alabama and Mississippi, and 2) as Santorum has begun to ramp up his criticism of Romney’s health-care law. But to demonstrate the math advantage Romney has, consider this: To get to 1,144, Santorum would
need to win 62% of all REMAINING delegates; if you assume that Romney wins in his regional strongholds (New York, Connecticut etc), then Santorum needs to win in all other places at a 67% clip; and if you assume that party insider delegates (the RNC version of super delegates) break for Romney 65%-35%, then Santorum would need 71% of the remaining delegates in primaries, caucuses and conventions to get the nomination. Bottom line: The math for Santorum isn’t TECHNICALLY impossible, but it’s HIGHLY improbable.
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