• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

Santorum Scores Meaningless Win In Louisiana

As expected, Rick Santorum walked away with a strong victory in Louisiana in terms of the raw votes cast, but the outcome will have little impact on the race the really matters now, the hunt for delegates:

Rick Santorum easily won the Louisiana Republican primary Saturday night, capturing a deeply conservative state with a hefty portion of the kind of evangelical Christian voters who have helped him claim victories in 10 other states.

The win gave Mr. Santorum a much-needed psychological boost but it will be unlikely to change the dynamics of the race. Only 20 delegates were up for grabs on Saturday, with 26 more to be allocated later. Even if Mr. Santorum were to claim most of them, he would still have only half the delegates that Mitt Romney, his chief rival, already has.

Mr. Romney’s win last week in Illinois, as well as his subsequent endorsement by Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, dimmed Mr. Santorum’s political prospects, although his victory in Louisiana showed how he could still complicate Mr. Romney’s efforts to capture the 1,144 delegates needed for the nomination.

In a fund-raising letter sent out Saturday night, Mr. Santorum said the results in Louisiana had sent “shock waves” through the political world.

“Tonight with our strong victory in Louisiana, our campaign has now won 11 states, tying a record and proving we can win in the West, South and Midwest,” the letter said. “Not since Ronald Reagan in 1976 has a conservative candidate won as many states as we have.”

The reference was significant — to the year President Gerald R. Ford won more delegates to the Republican convention than Mr. Reagan but not enough to secure the nomination. Mr. Ford did win the nomination, and lost the election to Jimmy Carter, but Mr. Reagan came roaring back to win in 1980. Some analysts are already talking about a Santorum candidacy in 2016.

Mr. Santorum was campaigning on Saturday night in Wisconsin, and after he arrived at a tavern in Green Bay, he thanked voters in Louisiana.

“You didn’t believe what the pundits have said, that this race was over,” he said. “You didn’t get the memo.”

The reality, of course, is that the race is effectively over and nothing that happened last night did much to change the race between Romney and Santorum. According to RealClearPolitics, as of now last night’s win resulted in Santorum winning ten delegates to Romney’s five, none of the other candidates won delegates because they failed to get above the threshold of 25% of the vote. That puts the delegate count this morning at 565 for Romney and 256 for Santorum. Revisiting the delegate math I did on Wednesday after Illinois’s primary, we find that the numbers haven’t changed significantly and that the race is still very much in Romney’s favor:

  • Not counting Republican Superdelegates, there are 1,182 delegates yet to be awarded. Romney needs to win 579 more delegates to get to the 1,144 majority needed to win on a first ballot, or 48.98% of the outstanding delegates, Santorum would need to win 888  (75.12%) of those delegates.
  • To date Romney has won 54.96% of the 1,028 delegates awarded, Santorum has won 24.90% of the delegates awarded to date
  • After April there are winner-take-all primaries in 6 states where Romney is likely to win (Delaware, Maryland, D.C., New Jersey, California, and Utah). These account for 335 of the 1,182 outstanding delegates. None of the states where Santorum is likely to win are winner take all.

These numbers represent a slight slowing down of the pace that Romney was on after Illinois, which is to be expected given the fact that Santorum walked away with a net gain last nigh. However, it’s not a statistically significant change. You can get a better idea of just how far gone the race for delegates actually is by taking a look at this series of charts prepared by Tom Dougherty. Put simply, there is no realistic scenario under which anything other than Mitt Romney winning the nomination outright on the first ballot occurs.

Now that Louisiana is over, we’re up for a bit of a break before the next round of primaries. On April 3rd, there are contests in Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, with 96 delegates at stake. Romney seems foreordained to perform very well in Maryland, and in the District of Columbia (where Santorum isn’t even on the ballot). The showdown will be in Wisconsin, where Santorum had been leading in polls three or four weeks ago but now seems to be trailing according to a new Rasmussen poll. Even if Santorum does well there, though, the way delegates will be allocated that night is likely to favor Mitt Romney significantly and he is likely to walk away with the lion’s share of delegates in any case. The momentum, therefore, is in Romney’s favor and will continue to be so, meaning that the outcome of this race is inevitable. The only question is how much longer Santorum wants to pretend that he has a snowball’s chance of even coming close to Mitt Romney in the delegate race.

So the Santorum campaign and its supporters celebrated last night, but nothing really changed the reality of the fact that this race is, in any realistic sense of the word, over.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    When was the last time the GOP nominated a candidate that won not a single southern state? I find this departure from the norm exceedingly strange.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  2. @OzarkHillbilly:

    Your argument is meaningless. As I noted in a post yesterday, there is no question that Romney will in S.C., GA, AL, MS, TN, and LA in November. What happened in the primary has nothing to do with anything in that regard

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  3. James Joyner says:

    Additionally, it’s worth noting that Romney still has more delegates than all the other candidates combined.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  4. Moosebreath says:

    Ozark,

    Romney won both Florida and Virginia. Both are not quite paradigms of Southern states, but both are generally considered Southern.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Your argument is meaningless.

    I disagree.
    Could you imagine the Democrats picking a nominee who, in the primaries, didn’t win one state in the Northeast?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. @PJ:

    Since the Democrats are going to win the Northeast anyway I think they’d be more interested in a Bill Clinton type candidate than a Mario Cuomo

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. @Doug Mataconis:

    It’s not meaningless, in that is candidates realize they can get the Republican presidential nomination without having pander to the south anymore, it could change the dynamics in the GOP quite a bit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. PD Shaw says:

    60% of the voters identified as Evangelical; in the general election in Lousiana, 30% of the voters are Evangelical. I think those are the more import stats than region.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. MBunge says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Your argument is meaningless.”

    Ye gods, Doug, you’re getting more dull witted as Romney’s Long March drags one. Here are three very simple and obvious reasons why not winning the South matters.

    1. McCain lost North Carolina and Virginia in 2008. He won Georgia by only 5.2% and South Carolina by 8.9%. If Romney loses 3 of those this time around, I’m not sure there’s any reasonable way he can win the White House.

    2. Even if Obama can’t win places like Tennessee or Texas, there’s a huge difference between being 10+ points up in those states and having a more tenuous lead. The harder Romney has to work to nail down the GOP’s Southern base, the less time, money and political maneuverability he has to go after swing states and independent voters

    3. If Romney is a real drag on Republican/conservative turnout in the South, that opens the door for Democrats to win down ticket races for Congress and state government they’d never have a shot at before. And even if they don’t win any of them, it will still consume time, money and political capital that might be spent elsewhere.

    Mike

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. @MBunge:

    1. If the Republicans lose its isn’t going to be because Mitt Romney wasn’t conservative enough, it’s going to be because they were unable to give voters a reason to fire the incumbent President.

    2. The closer than you seem to have expected margins in SC and GA were due almost entirely to the President’s extremely high share of the African American vote and high turnout among that population. Unless you think that white Republicans in those states are going to stay home and let Barack Obama be re-elected you’re merely projecting your own disdain for Romney onto others.

    3. Name me any other Republican currently running who has a realistic chance of winning 270 Electoral Votes and provide me a plausible scenario under which they do so. Santorum won’t do it. Newt won’t do it. Ron Paul certainly won’t do it. You guys are stuck with Romney.

    4. This discussion is academic since Romney is going to be the nominee.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  11. Tim S says:

    Romney is just another hack who is willing to say whatever it takes to buy a vote. The Republican establishment likes the statis quo, while their constituents want someone who will do whatever it takes to restore this Republic (not a democracy) to its former freedoms!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1