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Right Turn
Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 03/11/2012

Santorum wins Kansas, Romney everything else

Rick Santorum had one the best days of his campaign on Saturday yet gained no ground on front-runner Mitt Romney. And therein lies the nub of Santorum’s problem — he has no realistic chance of bypassing Romney in delegates.

Santorum, as expected, won the Kansas caucuses by a huge margin. Neither Romney nor Newt Gingrich bothered to campaign there. With more than 50 percent of the vote, Santorum took 33 delegates to seven for Romney.

But meanwhile Romney swept up more delegates in the Northern Mariana Islands (9), the Virgin Islands (7) and Guam (9). In addition, Wyoming (which earlier held a straw poll) awarded its delegates, with Romney getting at least six. With all of those, the total count for the day was 38 for Romney and 34 for Santorum (who picked up at least one Wyoming delegate). So much for Santorum’s big day.

The Romney camp put out a statement touting its Saturday delegate win: “Today, Mitt Romney won more delegates than any of the other candidates and continued his momentum and path to getting the delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination. In what was hyped as a big opportunity for Rick Santorum, he again fell short of making a dent in Mitt Romney’s already large delegate lead, much less of winning the 65% of the remaining delegates that is required for him to have a chance at getting 1,144 (he won less than 50%).”

There was some question as to whether Wyoming’s delegates should be counted in Saturday’s haul for Romney. But the Romney camp told Right Turn last night that it had not previously accounted for the delegates. (The Post, likewise, counted the delegates on Saturday, when they were allocated.)

On Tuesday things could get even rockier for Santorum. He needs to beat Gingrich in both Alabama and Mississippi, or risk having a revived Gingrich battle for the ultra-conservative vote for the rest of the campaign. Even worse, if Romney could pull a major surprise and take one of these, which might be enough to put the nail in the coffins of both the Santorum and Gingrich campaigns. Really, if they can’t beat Romney in the Deep South, how are they going to beat him in places such as Illinois, New York, New Jersey and California?

Romney leads in one Mississippi poll and is virtually tied with Gingrich in several polls in Alabama. If Santorum loses one of these he’s in trouble; if he loses both (following losses in Ohio and Michigan) it becomes hard to construct a rationale for his candidacy and a plausible road to the nomination.

Moreover, on Tuesday there are also contests in Hawaii, with 20 delegates, and American Samoa with nine. Even if he wins neither Alabama nor Mississippi (a scenario the Romney people long had anticipated) Romney will still get a chunk of delegates. With wins in the island primaries (where he again is expected to win) he will very likely lengthen his delegate lead once again on Tuesday.

Saturday’s races confirm several phenomena that point to Romney’s nomination. Only he has a national campaign to sweep up delegates in far-flung places. In addition, the proportional allocation makes it exceptionally difficult to catch the front-runner, barring a total collapse that seems unlikely in Romney’s case. And finally, if Santorum can’t win in the Rust Belt and has to struggle with Gingrich and Romney for delegates in the Deep South, then he is simply a weaker version of Mike Huckabee (who in 2008 won Southern states comfortably). It is safe to say at this point that he will not be the GOP nominee.

By  |  12:15 PM ET, 03/11/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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