US elections: Is Rick Santorum out?

2012-04-05 07:52
The quick answer is no. In spite of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s three wins in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, DC on Tuesday evening, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is going to cling on. This is in spite of Romney’s pretty firm grip on the Republican presidential nomination to face off with Barack Obama in November’s general election.

So far, the Republican presidential race has been a mixed bag for Santorum who has managed to win 10 states, but struggled to convert this into the all-important delegates. Both he and Romney have won the popular vote in various states, but it is delegates that are required for the nomination, and they are awarded through a very complicated system, mostly proportionally. This is unlike the general election where the candidate who gets the highest portion of the vote in a particular state receives all the electoral points that state is worth.

A total of 1 144 delegates are required to secure the Republican nomination and Mitt Romney is working the system like he grew up playing it.

Currently, according to Politico, Romney has 658 delegates, Santorum has 281, former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich has 135 and Texas congressman Ron Paul has 51. Four hundred and thirty-one delegates have not yet been allocated and 1 159 are still to be contested.

Although Romney has done better with rich voters and those with college degrees, and Santorum has done better with the opposite, the big differentiator between the two seems to be around religion. Conservative Santorum, without fail, has won his 10 states where exit polls show a majority of voters describe who themselves as evangelical. These also happen to be the more conservative states: Alabama, Mississippi, Minnesota, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and so on all sit under Santorum’s name. Romney has snared states 19 that are less dominated by religious rhetoric.

April will not be a good month for Santorum, as these trends seem likely to continue. He was clobbered in two states on Tuesday (Wisconsin and Maryland) and wasn’t even on the ballot, due to disorganisation, in Washington DC. None of the three comprise evangelical domination quite like Santorum’s other successes. And much to Santorum’s chagrin, neither do the rest of the primaries this month in Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania or Rhode Island.

There are two unlikely but possible positives in April for Santorum: Firstly Pennsylvania is his home state, which he previously served as a senator for two six-year terms. Unfortunately, his once 15-point lead has been smashed to between two and six points by Romney recently and Tuesday’s results are unlikely to help. Secondly, Delaware may fall toward Santorum, and I say this only because an extreme-right candidate, Christine O’Donnell, managed to win a 2010 Republican state primary for one of the state’s senate seats.

However, even if they fall his way, these results would be nothing but showy. One the first point, Pennsylvania’s delegates are awarded proportionally and Santorum is only a few points ahead. This means that Santorum may only take a small bite out of Romney’s lead in delegates (Romney is currently about four hundred ahead). What also doesn’t work for Santorum is that New York votes on the same day and Romney should win it easily. Pennsylvania is worth 72 delegates, and New York is worth 95. Whatever lead Santorum may take in Pennsylvania will be wiped out in New York. And even if Santorum storms Delaware, the state is worth a mere 17 delegates.

That changes in May: if the media or Republican party chiefs haven’t climbed all over Santorum and pushed him out, next month looks pretty decent for the former senator. He still won’t win this nomination, but he can drag it out for as long as possible and hope for a miracle.

The big prize will be Texas on 29 May, which is worth the second most delegates of any state: a stonking 155. Much like early April momentum should assist Romney later this month, a good May could set Santorum up for a strong showing in Texas. It is most likely he will win in the evangelical-heavy states of North Carolina, West Virginia, Nebraska, Arkansas and Kentucky. If he snares more than 50% of the Texas vote, Santorum will win all 155 delegates.

While this might make for entertaining viewing, it sets us up for little more than a dragged out primary in which Romney will end victorious. While Santorum believes that he stands a chance, he is alone among people who can count as high as 1,144.


Remaining primaries:

24 April
Connecticut – 28 delegates
Delaware – 17 delegates
New York – 95 delegates
Pennsylvania – 72 delegates
Rhode Island – 19 deegates

8 May
North Carolina – 55 delegates
West Virginia – 31 delegates

15 May
Nebraska – 34 delegates
Oregon – 28 delegates

22 May
Arkansas – 36 delegates
Kentucky – 45 delegates

29 May
Texas – 155 delegates

5 June
California – 172 delegates
Montana – 26 delegates
New Jersey – 50 delegates
New Mexico – 23 delegates
South Dakota – 28 delegates

Read more on:    simon williamson  |  mitt romney  |  rick santorum  |  us  |  us elections 2012

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