Why the GOP presidential race is effectively over, Part 278

at 01:43 PM ET, 04/04/2012

We’ve been writing for a while now on this blog that the GOP presidential race, barring some ground-breaking shift, is effectively over. Mitt Romney is already on pace to win a majority of the delegates to the party’s national convention, and the second half of the nominating calendar plays to his strengths in a major way.

Now, two of The Fix’s favorite people, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza and the Frontloading HQ blog’s Josh Putnam, have taken it a step further and actually projected the rest of the race.

The result: Romney wins easily. GASP!

Lizza and Putnam made their projections based on two factors.

For the statewide vote, they projected based on the percentage of evangelicals in the state, which is the closest thing we have to a crystal ball when it comes to Romney’s performance.

And for the vote in each congressional district, they projected the winner based on that district’s Partisan Voting Index (from the Cook Political Report), with Romney performing worse the more Republican a district is. (The PVI attempts to compare the partisanship in every district against all the other congressional seats in the country.)

Using those projections, they added in the delegate allocation rules and — presto! — we see how many delegates Romney is likely to win. (Note: the projections below were made before Tuesday’s results were known, but they track closely with the actual results of those contests).

The Lizza/FHQ team write:

1. Romney wins all of the available delegates in the strictly winner-take-all states (Washington, D.C.: 16, Delaware: 17, New Jersey: 50, Utah: 37), a sizable number in the strictly proportional states (Rhode Island: 9, Kentucky: 12, North Carolina: 16, Texas: 54, Oregon: 11, New Mexico: 8, South Dakota: 16, New York: 34, Connecticut: 10), and most at-large delegates statewide in the winner-take-all statewide and by congressional district states (Arkansas: 9, Wisconsin: 18, California: 10, Maryland: 10). That’s a total of 334 delegates.
2. Romney is projected to win all of the congressional district delegates in New York (58) and Connecticut (21), 7 of the 8 congressional districts in both Wisconsin and Maryland (42 total delegates), 6 of the 9 congressional districts in Indiana (18 delegates), 48 of the 53 districts in California (144 delegates) and 3 of the 4 congressional districts in Arkansas (7 delegates). That’s a total of 284 delegates.
Romney currently has 504 delegates. And so, according to our model, he is projected to end the contests on June 26th with 1,122 delegates.

Readers will note that the 1,122 number is just shy of the 1,144 number Romney needs to clinch the nomination.

But as Lizza and Putnam note, that number doesn’t include any of the nearly 600 unbound delegates — about one-fourth of the total delegates available — most whom are being selected in the caucus states as part of a lengthy process.

(AP projections, in contrast to Lizza’s and Putnam’s, award these delegates to candidates based on the results of the caucus straw poll.)

In other words, add whatever share Romney takes from those 600 delegates, and he’s almost surely won the nomination with several hundred delegates to spare.

Perhaps most illustrative, the Lizza/FHQ model projects that Romney will win all 29 of New York’s congressional districts and 48 of 53 districts in California, which would be good for about 200 delegates right there. This demonstrates how much better the map is for Romney in the second half of the race; before, he didn’t have these huge delegate prizes to pull from.

If Romney can dominate California and New York like that, there is virtually no hope for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (or anyone else) to hold him below 1,144.

What the Lizza/FHQ model makes clear is that something fundamental needs to shift in the race — and in a significant way — for Romney to fall short of the nomination. And that’s very unlikely to happen.

 
Read what others are saying