From TPM Reader MW …
For somebody as politically knowledgeable as yourself, I was quite surprised to see you assert so strongly that things look good for Mitt Romney.
Romney could win every primary between now and Super Tuesday and it wouldn’t make a difference when it comes to what really counts, namely winning delegates.
To start with, less than 15% of all GOP delegates will be selected between now and Super Tuesday, and all in states where delegates will be allocated proportionately. So even if he wins every primary/caucus, Romney is not going to be able to amass a signficant delegate lead. In fact, I’d wager that on the morning of Super Tuesday, Romney will have less than 40% of the delegates awarded to that point.
Secondly, the only reason that Romney is going to be able to win primaries is because the opposition to him is still fractured among multiple candidates. That won’t be the case by the time Super Tuesday rolls around, by which time it will likely be down to a three-man race (Romney, Paul, and either Santorum or Gingrich).
Third, to win the nomination outright, Romney does not just have to win primaries/caucuses, he has to win MORE THAN FIFTY PERCENT of the delegates. Otherwise, he’ll end up in a brokered convention, in which anything could happen. Given that he didn’t even break 25% in Iowa, may not break 40% in New Hampshire, and is stuck around 30-35% in South Carolina, that’s may be a pretty tall order. The key numbers to look at are Romney’s vote percentages as compared to those of all the religious right candidates combined (i.e. Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, & Bachmann), since those four voting blocs will coalesce into one single anti-Romney bloc by the time Super Tuesday rolls around and the winner-take-all contests begin. And by that metric it doesn’t look good for Romney. He would have lost Iowa 25%-53%, would still win NH, but would lose South Carolina by double digits. Until he starts breaking 40% somewhere outside of NH, I’m going to remain highly skeptical of his chances at actually winning the nomination.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.