Romney’s Trifecta – Running the Numbers …

April 4, 2012

Being from Vegas (I’ve lived here more than 20 years, and I admit it – it’s starting to rub off on me), I’ve come to understand the importance of numbers, and odds, and probability theory far better than I did when I was studying that mind-numbing material in college.  Then it was theory – here, it’s day-to-day reality.

And in that spirit, I’d like to look at the election in the aftermath of last night’s Romney Trifecta …

In the current primary season, roughly half of all the delegates have been selected – we’re half-way there – and barring some major upheaval, the success rates of the candidates who’ve survived thus far are likely to continue as they have been.  Even giving a plus-or-minus 10%, or even a plus-or-minus 25% – we now know who, mathematically, the winner will be.

According to the New York Times’ up-to-the-minute delegate count (, Romney has 655 delegates and Santorum has 278 delegates – there are 1166 more delegates to be chosen, and one candidate needs 1144 delegates to win the nomination outright.  If no-one gets 1144, we have a contested convention – which might be fun to watch (the media are already salivating over the possibility), but it could prove disastrous for our chances in November.  And frankly, all I care about is what’s coming in November.

Today, not having a “guy” of my own in the race (as I’ve blogged here earlier, I have problems with all of them, and I have neither voted for nor endorsed any candidate), I think I might be a bit more objective than someone who does have a favorite candidate.  With that in mind, let’s do the math, run the numbers, fill out the racing forms … and see what objective numbers suggest …

In the aftermath of Romney’s Trifecta in yesterday’s primary votes in Maryland, DC and Wisconsin, Rick Santorum now has 278 delegates – that’s 24.3% of the delegates he needs to win the nomination. Romney has 655 delegates – that’s 57.3% of the delegates he needs. No matter what he claims, Newt Gingrich – with just 135 delegates (fewer than half of Santorum’s count) is out of the race.

Moving forward, to win the nomination without a contested convention, Santorum has to capture 74.3% of all of the remaining primary delegates.  No matter how much you might like Rick Santorum, that’s a huge number, and one that I’d argue is virtually, mathematically impossible for Santorum to achieve. Especially given his track record – to date, he’s captured 24.3% of the delegates, so he’ll have to triple his success rate to win.  Triple it, with no particular reason why he should, and no strategy that points in that direction.

However, moving forward after last night, Romney needs to capture only 41.9% of the remaining primary delegates.  To date, he’s averaged 58.5% of all the delegates awarded by all the caucuses and primaries.  So he could lose literally one-third of his momentum and still win it outright.

In other words, Santorum could beat him nearly two-to-one in every remaining primary and Romney’d still win without a contested convention.  Rick has to triple his success rate to win, but Romney could drop his success rate by a full third and still squeak out a victory.  But there is no reason right now to expect Romney – even discounting last night’s Trifecta – of slowing down his rate of success, and no reason (or strategy) that would cause Santorum to more than triple his current success rate.

Let me recap – Romney has captured 58.5% of all the delegates selected so far … and Santorum has captured on 24.8% of them. But even if, going forward, Santorum was able to grab delegates at the rate Romney has so far achieved (58.5%), he still wouldn’t have enough to win the nomination. The only way for Romney to not win a clear majority before the convention is for him to have a “Macaca Moment,” or to be caught in a Lewinski-like tawdry sexual scandal, and those are not likely to happen.  Romney is too buttoned down for a Macaca Moment, and he’s too much a man of integrity to cheat on his wife and betray both his faith and his lifetime of probity and common decency (a trait he shares with Rick Santorum, an equally upright individual).

Short of a personal melt-down that would force Romney out of the race the way Cain was forced out of the race, it is very nearly mathematically impossible for Romney to lose, let alone for Santorum to win.

Those are numbers based on facts – not, to the greatest extent possible – opinions.

Now for my opinion.  After losing in Wisconsin, it’s clear that Santorum can’t win. There is no strategy that he could follow that would allow him to win. There is no amount of campaign funding that will underwrite a campaign that will win.  No matter what you think of Romney (please see my column, “Wrestling with Romney” to identify some of those issues you might have with Romney), t is just too late for Rick Santorum to turn this election around.

Obama has all the benefits of incumbency, plus his widely touted (though not yet raised) $1 billion dollar campaign war chest.  He has the unions behind him.  He has “Chicago politics” behind him, with all that implies in terms of election “irregularities.”  He has no primary opponents, and he has a free hand to raise money and campaign against Republicans.

If Santorum had a reasonable statistical shot at the nomination, I’d encourage him to continue.  But he doesn’t have a plausible statistical shot at it. There is no reason (and no strategy to support a reason) why he should triple his success rate in all of the remaining primaries.  Rick, it’s over.  Time to gracefully, honorably, step away from your quest, throw your support behind Romney, and help us all beat Obama.

Ned Barnett – Nevada Conservative



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