Metropolitik: Ultimately the numbers will decide the nominee
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Rick Santorum added to his delegate count during the weekend with an overwhelming victory in the Kansas caucuses, taking more than half of all votes. But contests in Wyoming, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, won by Mitt Romney, reinforce the new campaign reality: No matter how well any of the not-Romneys do, the math matters, and ultimately the numbers will decide the nominee.
See, the candidates are vying to secure enough delegates — done by winning states and/or congressional districts in the various elections — to win nomination before the August convention, and the magic number is 1,144. A candidate who secures that number of delegate votes will be declared the presidential nominee to take on Obama in November. Overwhelmingly, it’s looking like that candidate will — eventually, inevitably — be Romney.
This is no idle claim, but rather a fair analysis of the numbers. Following this weekend’s contests, Romney assumed an estimated count of 454 delegates to Santorum’s 217. (Gingrich and Paul claim fewer.) In other words, Romney has more than twice the number of his closest competitor; and with most upcoming elections awarding delegates proportionally, an alternate scenario looks improbable.
Santorum downplayed the delegate gap on “Meet the Press” yesterday after host David Gregory argued he’d need to win 61 percent of upcoming elections to overshoot Romney. “These numbers are going to change dramatically,” Santorum said. “A lot of these delegates are uncommitted.”
Santorum’s latter point is true enough; at this time, delegate counts are merely estimates and anything could, supposedly, happen. But his former point may be a decimal off: With Gingrich committed to “going all the way to Tampa,” the numbers just don’t add up. And numbers, unlike presidential hopefuls, don’t lie.
Follow Brayden Simms on Twitter @metropolitik