There has been no end to the discussion about Rick Santorum and his rise in polls across the nation. The big question though is whether this rise in attention will equate to a belief of electability and securing the Republican nomination. What are his real chances? And what about Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul, and of course Mitt Romney?
As of this moment the delegate count breaks down to the following
Mitt Romney: Has 90 delegates out of 1,144 needed to win with 46 Caucuses and Primaries to go.
Won: Florida, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire
Rick Santorum: Has 44 delegates.
Won: Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota
Newt Gingrich: Has 32 delegates.
Won: South Carolina
Rep. Ron Paul: Has 20 delegates.
Without any wins.
There are 3 more Caucuses/Primaries before Super Tuesday on March 6th where 10 States will be making their choices. Those 10 are: Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia. A total of 437 delagates at stake, and likely the race itself.
So far, Mitt Romney has garnered more votes than any other candidate. He has a total of 1.12 million votes in 8 Caucuses/Primaries. The next closest is Newt Gingrich with 838,783. Rick Santorum has 431,863. Rep Ron Paul pulls last with only 307,941.
Those were the facts.
But this was all before Rick Santorum won in style, in States where neither Mitt Romney nor Newt Gingrich were actively seeking votes. It garnered a huge payday for the Santorum campaign, allowing for the creation of a national network or campaign organizers – to an extent. For all the money gained, neither Santorum nor Gingrich have the funding to have competitive campaigns in every State. Neither do they have the time to build a national organization. Which means, realistically, that much of the advertising seen, and the voice heard, will be that of Mitt Romney.
The best that any of the candidates can hope for is to cut into the lead of Mitt Romney, denying him a run away winn on Super Tuesday. To that end, Romney will likely take Massachusetts, Vermont, and North Dakota. Santorum will fight hard for Ohio as it is so close to his home State of Pennsylvania where he was a Senator. In addition he will likely push for Idaho and Oklahoma, due to the closeness to States where he has already done well and has established organizations. Gingrich will seek to sweep the South with Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee as they are close to his established base in South Carolina.
The problem States are North Dakota and Idaho, as they are non-binding. Thus while winning in these States is a plus for fundraising, they will likely go to whomever takes the overall lead in the summer nomination. The rest of the States are all proportional, so wins are critical for Santorum and Gingrich, while Romney can get by with 2nd place finishes anywhere he does not win outright.
Factoring in the most recent polling, Santorum has a narrow lead nationally with 30.8%, followed closely by Romney at 29.2%. Gingrich trails in third place with 16.2%. Rep Ron Paul holds last with 12.7% – which is approximately the fringe of the Republican Party that he appeals to. Romney continues to lead all the other nominees in polling versus President Obama (the President leading in virtually all polls to date).
Thus we would expect that after the results of Super Tuesday are in, Rep. Ron Paul may finally give up – though that is a long shot even as he has no hope of winning the nomination in our estimates.
Gingrich will likely stay in 3rd, though very close behind Santorum, even though he will maintain the overall lead between the 2 men in actual votes cast. We feel it would be unlikely for Newt Gingrich to have the funds available to continue the race for the nomination after April 3rd.
Santorum will likely narrow the gap between himself and Romney, but Romney will maintain a clear advantage in both overall votes and delegates. April 28th, and its round of 5 States will be decisive for Santorum. This is when Pennsylvania and New York will vote. Santorum MUST win Pennsylvania and come in close 2nd in New York to maintain any hope of the nomination. We expect that Santorum will hold out, no matter the outcome of Super Tuesday or any other Caucus/Primary, until that date at least.
Our expectation is that coming out of Super Tuesday, based on current observations, Romney should gain approx 143 delegates, followed by Santorum with 122, Gingrich with 96, and Rep. Paul with 61. That leaves roughly +/- 4% for each candidate.
All of the above assumes that Rick Santorum wins in Michigan, with Romney winning Arizona and Washington.
These are our projections at this time. We are looking forward to seeing how close our predictions come. We hope you will as well.