Since I last blogged, there have been several developments. Notwithstanding Santorum winning the conservative-dominated Louisiana primary last week, the delegate numbers are looking grim for both Santorum and Gingrich.
Associated Press Delegate Count as of April 1 (1,144 needed for the nomination)
The final turning point was Romney's decisive victory in Illinois. For all intensive purposes, it looks like the GOP race may be about over. Many in the Party hierarchy have weighed in over the past week and it is not encouraging for Romney's adversaries.
President Bush (41 not 43), Senator Marco Rubio from Florida - a potential VP candidate, and both senators from Wisconsin (holding a primary on Tuesday) have all endorsed Romney in the past few days. Additionally, the recent polling numbers for Santorum are not encouraging.
The month of April does not bode well for the anti-Romney forces either. Apart from WI and PA where he is competitive, Santorum needs to compete in Romney-friendly states such as NY, RI, CT, RI, MD. DE, and DC. The next Southern primary with an evangelical-dominated electorate isn't until May 8 in NC. Thus April is a month where Romney is very likely to pad his lead.
It also looks like Gingrich is almost done. Sheldon Adelson, Newt's benefactor has turned off the money supply for Newt's super-pac. Newt himself has announced that he is "scaling back" his campaign. Reportedly, he is now charging supporters for autographed pictures.
So, is this topsy-turvey season near an end? The Prof says a definitive yes! It is unlikely that Santorum can win in many more places and the delegate math is becoming more unfavorable as the primaries continue. Of course, Santorum backers cite that they can still affect the delegate count in caucus states where some delegate selections will not officially take place until May or June. However, this is really grasping at straws.
Romney, in spite of all of his gaffes has slowly become a better candidate over time while Santorum has veered so far to the political right as to be seen as a liability by most of the GOP hierarchy. Many in the GOP grassroots and tea party movement still are not sold on Romney, but the failure to coalesce around a single opposition candidate (not prone to gaffes that negatively affect electability) has cinched the nomination for Romney.
Ironic that Romney was the conservative alternative in 2008 to John McCain and is now deemed a "Massachusetts moderate" in 2012. This shows how the GOP has been moving to the political right over the past generation and much more rapidly so after the election of President Obama.
It is possible that Santorum, to preserve his status (and future) in the GOP will bow out in the next week or two. The GOP has suffered a very divisive primary season and needs to heal before the next stage - the general election which will begin in earnest in the next several weeks.