Num­bers of­fer lit­tle clar­ity, no clo­sure in GOP marathon

Rom­ney del­e­gate count out­pac­ing his vote to­tals

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY RALPH Z. HAL­LOW

From one per­spec­tive, Tues­day’s Re­pub­li­can pri­maries in Alabama and Mis­sis­sippi were two more in a long se­ries of con­tests this year that have left the Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion picture as cloudy as a 1952 Du­Mont TV screen with rab­bit ears.

And the bat­tle among Mitt Rom­ney, Rick San­to­rum and Newt Gin­grich once again frus­trates those look­ing for a con­sis­tent theme. This week’s re­sults con­tin­ued a pat­tern where one or an­other of the can­di­dates walked off as the clear win­ner, only to fall back to the pack in sub­se­quent con­tests, go­ing from surge to dirge.

“Over­all, San­to­rum won one more del­e­gate than Rom­ney and Gin­grich, so while it’s nice to be the win­ner, it was ob­vi­ously a tight three-man race with lit­tle sepa­ra­tion be­tween the can­di­dates,” said Mis­sis­sippi GOP Chair­man Joe Nosef.

“I have never been part of an elec­tion this closely di­vided,” said long­time ac­tivist Matt Fridy, a mem­ber of the Alabama GOP Steer­ing Com­mit­tee.

Still, a look at some of the hard num­bers of the Re­pub­li­can race of­fers a lit­tle clar­ity, even as those same num­bers point to a hard slog to the party’s Tampa, Fla., con­ven­tion in late Au­gust and the abil­ity of any can­di­date to se­cure the 1,144 del­e­gates needed to win.

Mr. Gin­grich, Mr. San­to­rum and Texas Rep. Ron Paul can take com­fort from the fact that Mr. Rom­ney’s av­er­age pop­u­lar vote share has been just 39 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to RealclearPol­i­tics.com. If he were to take 39 per­cent of the re­main­ing 1,289 del­e­gates still up for grabs, he would be able to add only 503 ad­di­tional del­e­gates to the 495 he al­ready has won.

And even if Mr. Rom­ney were to take most or all of the 146 Re­pub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee “su­perdel­e­gates,” that still might not be enough to avoid the dreaded — by many in the GOP es­tab­lish­ment — open or bro­kered con­ven­tion.

But an­other pat­tern ex­ists in these num­bers: Even in the cur­rent four­way con­test, Mr. Rom­ney has been av­er­ag­ing 53 per­cent ma­jori­ties of the del­e­gates in the 30 con­tests since Jan. 3, far more than his raw vote to­tals would sug­gest.

Mr. San­to­rum, by con­trast, has av­er­aged just 25 per­cent of the del­e­gates avail­able. Mr. Gin­grich has av­er­aged 15 per­cent, and Mr. Paul is av­er­ag­ing 7 per­cent.

Still ahead are 26 pri­maries and cau­cuses be­fore the del­e­gates con­vene in Florida to for­mally pick their nom­i­nee.

The picture looks both clear and promis­ing to Mr. Rom­ney in part be­cause, in April alone, he would be fa­vored to sweep seven out of eight state pri­maries — some of them win­ner-take-all — based on the pop­u­lar vote, giv­ing him mo­men­tum go­ing into the final con­tests in May and June, reach­ing the magic to­tal of 1,144 from Rom­ney-friendly states such as Cal­i­for­nia, New Jer­sey and Utah.

What should make ri­vals shud­der is that, if Mr. Rom­ney can main­tain his av­er­age del­e­gate take of 53 per­cent per con­test, he will cap­ture an ad­di­tional 683 del­e­gates on top of the 496 he al­ready has won, for a to­tal of 1179, even be­fore the RNC su­perdel­e­gates are counted.

What also should be com­fort­ing to Mr. Rom­ney’s cam­paign or­ga­ni­za­tion, which has re­mained sur­pris­ingly in­tact de­spite the re­cent elec­toral dif­fi­cul­ties, is that he can claim a clear mar­gin in the pop­u­lar vote so far.

His to­tal stands at 3,472,365 votes, for a 39 per­cent share. Mr. San­to­rum has re­ceived a cu­mu­la­tive to­tal of 2,282,245 votes (26 per­cent), Mr. Gin­grich 2,101,951 votes (24 per­cent) and Mr. Paul 949,207 votes (11 per­cent).

The hard num­bers for now are bat­tling the low es­ti­mates even many GOP vot­ers ex­press for their choices, leav­ing the im­pres­sion that lots of vot­ers could not muster the en­thu­si­asm to bother vot­ing, while oth­ers grit­ted their teeth and voted de­spite their in­cli­na­tions.

“Here in Alabama, Repub­li­cans in the met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas were ready for the pri­mary to be over, so they held their nose and voted for Rom­ney,” said Alabama Re­pub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­ber Paul Reynolds. “But the metro ar­eas were not enough to off­set the ru­ral coun­ties vot­ing their re­li­gious be­liefs.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mitt Rom­ney tells Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on “Amer­ica Live” on Wed­nes­day

that very con­ser­va­tive

vot­ers who don’t sup­port him now will

fa­vor him against Barack

Obama.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hopeful Rick San­to­rum speaks at a town hall meet­ing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Wed­nes­day. The for­mer se­na­tor from Penn­syl­va­nia hopes to do well in Puerto Rico’s Re­pub­li­can pri­mary on Sun­day.

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