Why the GOP race is over — It’s the math, stupid
Various people are debating whether having Gingrich in the race helps or hurts Romney’s chances of reaching 1,144 delegates and clinching the GOP nomination. Many of Santorum’s supporters think that Gingrich is robbing him of delegates that he needs to stop Romney, while Gingrich supporters are arguing that splitting the delegates makes it more difficult for Romney to win. The fact is, it does not matter, because barring finding Romney in bed with a dead girl or live boy, as Edwin Edwards once put it, he has clinched it mathematically.
Taking a look at the current standings, estimated by TheGreenPapers.com we have:
- Romney: 493 - 51%
- Santorum: 235 - 24%
- Gingrich: 157 - 16%
- Paul: 77 - 8%
That’s 962 decided delegates with 1,324 remaining.
With that many delegates remaining, how can it be over?
Well, there are two ways to allocate the delegates that remain. One is by a proportional system where each candidate gets some amount of delegates that are in proportion to each candidates share of the vote. So, if 30 delegates are at stake and three candidates split evenly, each would get 10. The other is winner take all, where the person securing the plurality (the most) of the vote gets all of the delegates.
The winner take all states that remain are: DC, MD, WI, DE, IN, CA, NJ, UT.
If a single candidate gets a majority in the following states, is it winner take all, but proportional otherwise: PR, CT, NY.
Let’s assume that Gingrich and Paul stay in and therefore PR, CT and NY will stay proportional. Of the WTA states, Romney is all but assured victory in DC, DE, CA, NJ, and UT. Together, those are 298 delegates. Being as generous as possible and giving Santorum the other 125 WTA delegates we have:
- Romney: 791 - 57%
- Santorum: 360 - 26%
- Gingrich: 157 - 11%
- Paul: 77 - 6%
1,385 allocated with 901 proportional delegates remaining. To look at the standings another way, these are the numbers of delegates that each candidate would need to reach 1,144: (in this case the percentage is the percentage of the remaining vote the candidate has to take to reach that total)
- Romney: 353 - 39%
- Santorum: 784 - 87%
- Gingrich: 987 - 110%
- Paul: 1,067 - 118%
That means, if Romney only wins the WTA states that he is virtually assured of winning, he only needs 40% of the remaining delegates to reach 1,144. So far, Romney has won about 51% of the delegates and 40% of the popular vote, and nothing has changed to think this trend will be broken.
With NY (which could give Romney all of its delegates if he gets a majority) and IL ready to give a large number of proportional delegates to Romney and his normal cut in TX (155), he will easily reach or come extremely close to the final 353 delegates to win. If the worst possible case happens and he is within 100-150, the convention will not deny him, as there are many more unpledged delegates that will switch to him to avoid a floor fight. For that to even happen, he would have to greatly underperform in the remaining contests.
That then brings up the question of what is best for the Anti-Roms, Newt staying or going? It is very clear that if Newt drops out, it only guarantees that Romney wins more quickly.
How could this be? Well, without Gingrich taking a percentage of the vote, there are more votes available to Santorum and Romney (and Paul). In the winner-take-all states that Romney will win, Gingrich’s absence will not help Santorum. They are not evangelical hotspots, they are the Northeast and the state of California.
In the other states, something else happens. Those Gingrich voters do one of three things, stay home, vote for an Anti-Rom, or vote for Romney. Voters are not monolithic, so they will do a combination of these things. But what does that do to a proportional delegate allocation? It means Romney wins a large proportion of the vote, which means he wins more delegates, which means he wins faster and more convincingly.
Also, in NY, it likely goes from a proportional finish to a winner take all state. That’s 92 Romney delegates.
So what is the best chance for the Anti-Roms to win? Newt staying in the race, but even then, it’s still over. The math is simple, (1 + 1 = Romney). One can only hope that the other candidates keep their dignity and not make fools of themselves or cripple Romney in the general election as they take their last breaths in this campaign season and fade into obscurity.
* Note: People might quibble about California, which many in the media have claimed to be proportional. It actually has similar rules to South Carolina in that the candidate with the most votes in every Congressional district gets the 3 delegates from that district and the winner of the state gets the state delegates. In SC, Newt won and got 92% of the delegates and the winner in California will likely get about the same. On the low end, you can use GA as an example. They only gave 2 delegates to the district winner unless there was a majority and then they got 3. Statewide, everything was proportional. Still, with those more proportional rules, Gingrich still got 71% of Georgia’s delegates. In the end, Romney may not get 100%, but he will still likely get about 85-90%, which would only mean a loss of 15-20 delegates, which he can easily pick up from one of the winner-take-all states that I awarded to Santorum for the sake of argument.