Chart from the Abulsme.com 2012 Republican Delegate Count Graphs page. When a candidate gets down to 0%, they have cinched the nomination. If they get up past 100%, they have been mathematically eliminated. Rather than the date on the x-axis, we show the “% of Delegates Already Allocated” as this better represents the progress through the race. Note that these numbers include estimates of the eventual results of multi-stage caucus processes which will be refined as the later stages occur.
OK, bottom line here… this is not the big win for Santorum that many people are crowing about this morning. He didn’t come close to the numbers he would need to be able to catch up and get to 1144. He didn’t even get the most delegates today. Romney did. But this was also not a win for Romney. As many anticipated, he did not get the percentages of delegates he needed to stay on pace for 1144 and fell back a bit, keeping the possibility of the non-Romney’s preventing Romney from getting to 1144 alive.
OK, now lets hit the details. The states with updates today:
- Alabama: +16 Santorum, +12 Gingrich, +10 Romney (9 regular delegates and 2 super delegates still TBD)
- Mississippi: +13 Santorum, +12 Romney, +12 Gingrich (2 super delegates still TBD)
- Hawaii: +9 Romney, +5 Santorum, +3 Paul (3 super delegates still TBD)
- American Samoa: +9 Romney
- Georgia: +2 Gingrich, -2 Romney (Revision to Georgia results based on updated computations)
So, total for the day: Romney +38, Santorum +34, Gingrich+26, Paul +3
Before anything else, lets just point out again… Romney got the most delegates today. Romney was ahead when this started. So Romney increased his lead today. How is this a win for Santorum? (The answer of course is the spin that gets put on things… which could in turn affect what happens in the next few states… but in the end it will come down to the cold hard numbers… )
So, for Romney going into today, to maintain his pace toward 1144, he needed to get 48.4% of the delegates. Did he manage that? 38/101 = 37.6%. No. He fell short by a significant margin. This WAS a bad day for Romney, no way to disguise it. His “% of remaining needed to win” rises to 49.2%. So far he has 51.2% of the delegates according to the count we use (GreenPapers Soft Count), so if he just continues at that pace he WILL get to 1144… eventually. But this remains in the zone where Romney is vulnerable to be stopped. So far the collective non-Romney’s have managed to get 48.8% of the delegates. They only have to up their game a little bit… such that collectively they are managing 50.8%… to be able to block Romney. This is obviously NOT where Romney would like to be. He wants to be at the point where his “% needed to win” keeps dropping toward zero. But that just isn’t happening yet, and if Santorum gains “momentum” out of his Alabama and Mississippi wins, then it may yet be awhile. If Romney slips under the mark of “50% of the delegates awarded so far” in the next few contests, expect the talk of brokered conventions to accelerate rapidly.
How about Santorum? Well, despite the positive headlines, in terms of actually winning the nomination, despite his wins in two states, today was not good for him. Coming into this round, he needed to be getting 66.2% of the delegates to be on a pace to catch up and win. He got 34/101=33.7% which is nowhere even close. As a result, his “% needed to win” rises dramatically to 68.7%. This is essentially an impossible number as long as all four candidates continue to get support. Even if Gingrich and Paul drop out, this would be an insane winning margin in a two man race. Not going to happen. The only scenarios where Santorum starts to get close are ones where Gingrich and Paul not only drop out, but their delegates en masse and unanimously jump over to Santorum. This would drop Santorum’s “% needed to win” to the 50.8% needed for the non-Romney’s mentioned above. That isn’t going to happen either though.
The situation is of course even worse for Gingrich and Paul. All three of these guys are racing toward mathematical elimination. So the only interesting scenario remains if the three of them collectively can get enough delegates to stop Romney from getting to 1144. The three candidates at this point have all but admitted this. As we have mentioned before, this scenario relies on the three of them being able to continue getting delegates… and getting them at a higher rate than they have so far… even though it is impossible for any of them to individually win. This is still in the realm of the possible though. They have to win the spin war by winning states, even if not by enough delegates to catch up, pushing things explicitly as “Stop Romney”, etc. By all reports the rest of March is still marginal for Romney. If Santorum gains some momentum from states like Alabama and Mississippi and can push hard on the “We must stop Romney” angle, wins some more states in March and then starts driving down Romney support in post-March states, then this remains very much on the table. And then of course the idea is, if it actually goes to the convention undecided, then anything can happen.
Fundamentally the basic analysis of where we are remains the same as it has been since Super Tuesday, and arguably since Florida… or even since Iowa… namely, the non-Romney’s get further away from the nomination with almost every contest (the only exceptions so far being South Carolina and Kansas). Meanwhile Romney continues to hover in the zone where if he continues exactly how he has been going he will win EVENTUALLY, but it will take a long time, and if his opponents collectively improve their performance just a LITTLE BIT, they could block him and force some convention drama.
Edit 2012 Mar 13 18:11 UTC to correct one place where I had incorrectly said Romney when I actually meant Gingrich. Thanks Paolo for pointing it out.