Splitting Super Tuesday has never been what you would call a hot ticket experience. Since its unofficial inception in 1984, the candidate who cleans up on delegate day historically goes on to win the nomination. We’ll cite Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Al Gore and George W. to name a few. Splitting delegates usually means an all-out trench war until the convention, where anything goes and no win comes cheap.
That’s where we are today, waking up on a Wednesday with a post-electoral hangover. Three wins for Santorum outside his comfort zone (albeit everywhere outside Pennsylvania seems to be outside his comfort zone) and a sabre rattling loss in Ohio spells a lengthy uphill battle for both him and Mitt Romney. Mitt won the lot but the 86 or so delegates Santorum stole almost doubles his previous total and leaves Romney a long way off from the desired 1144 to seal the deal.
And what of Newt Gingrich, a candidate twice back from the dead, and in his own words the target of an “eviscerating slander campaign from the elitist left media?” Newt won a decisive victory in his home state of Georgia and seems poised to hold out until at least April to see how the other Southern states fall and if a third coming is still in the cards.
Ron Paul? He’s an issues candidate, maybe the last real libertarian alive and he’ll stick around to defend the constitution, make his positions known on foreign aid and the Federal Reserve (he cares for neither if you haven’t already guessed), and won’t pander to political mood swings.
So what? What’s changed? Where are we?
It’s still a four way race albeit with one horse well behind and another running in whichever direction he should choose. The question now is whether the math will add up come convention time in Tampa and the general election in the fall. Let’s get ambitious:
Mitt won Virginia, a two way race between him and Paul in which the latter took 40.5 percent of the vote.
What it tells us: Mitt status as front runner and a general election candidate is in jeopardy. If he can’t win by a commanding margin against someone so different in values but from the same side of the wall, how will he fair against the Obama infrastructure and ideals come November?
Mitt won Ohio by a margin of 37.9 per cent to 36.9 per cent.
What it tells us: the same thing. Mitt barely squeaked out a win in one of the country’s most volatile swing states. Ohio is a must win for Republicans in a general election and given what we saw last night, you have to believe some Kingmaker’s to the right are wringing their hands over a November Romney run.
Approximately 746 delegates have been handed down. Some 1541 remain. So let’s play a game:
Following some trends, let’s assume Newt makes a run in the South, stealing 38 delegates in Mississippi, 46 in Louisiana and 49 in Alabama. For the sake of argument, we’ll say by proximity to this apparent base, Newt nips into North Carolina and Texas, where he has been backed by the still popular Rick Perry, and we’ll round up his delegate count to 170 of the 1541 left on the table.
Now let’s say Santorum sweeps down the middle where he’s already taken North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Colorado. With four more states in stasis he’ll be up to 140 and we’ll give him the 71 in Pennsylvania to bring him up to 211.
Total delegates remaining: 1160.
Enter wildcards: 67 delegates in Illinois, 55 in North Carolina, 45 in Kentucky, 42 in Wisconsin, 45 in Indiana and 52 in Montana. These are swinging whichever way the tide takes them putting 306 delegates up in the air and we haven’t even started talking about the 155 in Texas and 172 in California.
Add all those up and we’re talking about 633 ripe for the taking with about 527 remaining for Romney but with bits and pieces cropped here and there by proportional balloting.
So what does all this number crunching tell us? That we should hunker down for a long, hot American summer. Given the lack of ‘winner take all’ ballots left on the table, delegates are going to fly every which way and no one candidate (read: Romney) will be able to garner the required 1144 come the convention. A more decisive win last night might have changed all that but Super Tuesday came and went and left us with little more than we had before, an up and down carousel campaign where the fun never ends.