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Romney Can Lose Ohio And Still Win GOP Nomination

I’d like to tell you why Rick Santorum’s extreme religious views should be blamed for hampering his campaign’s performance on Super Tuesday, but I don’t believe that to be true. What will be hampering Rick Santorum’s campaign is the same thing that has caused major problems for every Republican presidential candidate this year not named Mitt Romney or Ron Paul—a lack of organization and a lack of money. In fact, Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia, three super Tuesday states, will only have Romney and Paul on the ballot.  

Today is Super Tuesday here at Big Think. Two of my fellow bloggers here, Peter Lawler and Robert de Neufville, as members of the academy, bring their expert opinions to bear on the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. I am an amateur political pundit by comparison, one who is fond of data but still partial to the information I glean from the dozens of political blogs and campaign communiqués I read regularly.

I disagree with Robert de Neufville about the importance of Ohio, but he may be right as far as intraparty politics goes, since I am looking at this race through the prism of the Obama-Clinton marathon of 2008. To me, winning or losing Ohio simply does not matter that much, symbolically or otherwise, in order for the Romney campaign to remain at the front of the pack.

For those who want to look beyond the rhetoric to the numbers, Melissa Harris Perry on MSNBC had a very effective way of showing the inexorable march toward victory of the Romney campaign with two jars of jellybeans. She used one jar filled with 1,144 jellybeans to represent the number of delegates a candidate needed to formally clinch the nomination. Then she took an identical empty jar that she designated for jellybeans she called “Romney delegates”, sat it beside the one containing 1,144 jellybeans, and started filling it with various quantities of pre-measured jellybeans. As she held up each quantity of Romney delegate jellybeans to pour them in the empty container, she would describe what juncture in the race it symbolized.

Dr. Perry’s magic number, the one she used to fill her Romney jar almost all the way to the level of the nomination jar, was 36 percent. 36 percent, she said, was the average number of votes Romney has won so far in the 12 contests held so far. And if there is one thing we do know about the Romney campaign, it is very, very consistent in its approach. Couple that with the increased number of proportional delegate allocating states this year and you have a winning formula, one that should help to keep Romney in front all the way to the convention. Whether or not Romney is a strong candidate is an argument for a different day, but for all practical purposes, this race is over unless the party bigwigs decide to upset the apple cart.

So if I were someone casually watching the election results tonight who wanted to make some sense of the proceedings, I would put my TV on CNN, turn the sound off, and keep an eye out for the graphics that show the total number of delegates each candidate garners throughout the evening. 437 delegates are at stake tonight. Since I’m still not entirely clear what methodology Dr. Perry used to come up with her delegate demonstration, I will round her 36 percent up to 40 percent. So once you see 175 estimated delegates or more as tonight’s haul in the Romney delegate column, you can change the channel to something more entertaining.

I imagine this threshold should be reached just in time for me to turn the channel from CNN to Justified at 10:00pm.   

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