Here we are again..the Republican electorate simply cannot settle on any one candidate thus far...
After the debacle in South Carolina, Mitt Romney convincingly wins Florida (although loses many rural counties, a danger sign in some respects) and rolls as expected in Nevada. The Mittster is back on track for a day.
However two days later, Rick Santorum wins a stunning trifecta in Colorado (where a Romney win was expected), Missouri (55% of the vote, alas no delegates as it was just a "beauty contest") and Minnesota (you betcha!) where Mitt end up third behind Ron Paul. Mitt is back on his heals once again as he just can't close the deal with social conservatives who now appear to be flocking to the very culturally conservative (but probably unelectable) Santorum.
Oops, almost forgot about Newt. His campaign is nearly out of money and he placed badly in the last four contests. Does he have another resurrection? We shall see.
At the end of the day the delegate count is what matters. To win the GOP nomination a candidate must amass at least 1,144 delegates for a simple majority. To date, this is where the delegate count stands (courtesy of the Washington Post: Feb. 11, 2012).
Maine (24 del) is going to releasing its caucus results later today. On February 28 Michigan (30 del) and Arizona (29 del) are voting. Michigan has proportional delegate allocation and Arizona is winner-take all. On March 3 the Washington State Caucus (43 del) will occur. And then ten states (438 delegates at stake) (including the Prof's home state of Massachusetts) are voting on March 6 aka Super Tuesday.
So...this race is still Romney's to lose. He has more money and a much stronger organization than either Santorum of Newt. But he keeps stumbling and literally can't go for more than 48 hours without a gaffe of some sort. Mitt should win in the large state like NY and CA and accumulate many delegates in April. He will likely limp across the finish line at some point, but unless he cleans up his act will have a divided party to contend with (much to President Obama's advantage).
Santorum seems to have found new life and made a connection with social conservatives who make up a large block of voters especially in the Midwest and South where he may win if Newt continues to fade. His problem is going to be a lack of appeal to moderate voters who don't go to primaries, but who will vote in November. This issue with electability will be difficult for him to overcome. But he has a chance, albeit a slight one to at least gain enough delegates to deny a majority to Mitt.
Newt has had a bad...no, terrible few weeks, but vows to stay in until the bitter end. His hope now is to do well in states like the southern states that vote on Super Tuesday. Too bad he failed to make the ballot in Virginia (thus conceding it to Romney). Poor organization strikes yet again!
Ron Paul continues to excite young folks and will go to the convention with enough delegates to have some influence. And may announce for 2016 while he is at it...
There is now a break until February 28 - in the next few weeks I will post about the general election and where things may stand come November. Additionally, we will look at the likely reelection strategy of the President and watch closely as things evolve.