On Super Tuesday And Its Aftermath

A blogger over at Redstate did a fairly detailed analysis of how many delegates each candidate is likely to come out of Super Tuesday with. I haven’t double checked all of his figures, so I can’t vouch for what he has said down the line, but it sounds reasonably in line with other estimates I’ve seen.

Long story short, “McCain = 577 Romney = 429 Huckabee = 270”

Now, that may not seem like such a big lead, but given the situation it’s actually huge.

Why so?

Nationally, McCain is going into Super Tuesday with enormous momentum and probably about an 18-20 point lead on Romney in the national polling. After Super Tuesday, he’s going to have a large delegate lead, even more momentum, an even larger lead nationally, and lots of people saying the race is over. So, even if Huckabee dropped out at that point, Mitt would still be in an enormous hole.

But, there are still some big states left, right? Yes, but — and this is a big “but” — a lot of them have open primaries and are not winner-take-all. A reader email over at The Campaign Spot explains why Mitt would have such an uphill climb,

The Romney strategy is to stay close on Super Tuesday and then have conservatives coalesce around Mitt. But if Romney is, as is quite likely, at least 200 delegates down after Super Tuesday, the success of such a strategy assumes that Romney wins most of the delegates the rest of the way so he can beat McCain to 1,191. To accomplish that, Romney needs lots of primaries closed to non-GOP voters, and he’d want them to be winner take all so he could scoop up large caches of delegates. However, on March 4 Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island hold open primaries that are not winner take all.

That’s a target-rich environment for McCain: 248 delegates at stake, you don’t have to be Republican to vote, and even if McCain loses he still gets a share of the delegates. Similarly, on May 6 North Carolina and Indiana will elect 126 delegates in open, non-winner take all primaries. And a number of other states still to come also have open, non-winner take all primaries: Washington, Wisconsin and Nebraska.

To put it simply, Romney’s strategy assumes that even though he just lost a closed primary to McCain in Florida, and even though he hasn’t won a contested state so far where his father wasn’t once governor, starting with the Washington and Kansas primaries this Saturday, he’s going to start routing McCain by such massive proportions in one state after another that McCain can’t win a war of attrition.

Ain’t gonna happen.

The sort of battle Mitt would have to fight would be long, expensive, and against the tide which is why I think it’s particularly notable that I DON’T HEAR the Romney campaign saying that they’re in it until the convention.

Obviously, Mitt’s thinking about calling it quits and if Huckabee doesn’t drop out soon — I wouldn’t be surprised if Mitt decides not to throw any more good money after bad. If Huck does drop out, Mitt will probably hang around long enough to at least see how the polls shake out, but I haven’t seen any indications that Huckabee’s voters would migrate over to Mitt en masse or vice-versa. If Mitt drops out, Huck does a little poll watching himself and then he makes a decision about whether staying in until the convention will work out to his benefit or not.

What does that mean? It means that this race could very well be over by the end of this week.

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