Romney: The Prohibitive Favorite? Yes.

Posted on March 8, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

The consensus among political pundits and others with an interest in seeing the GOP primary season extended is that Mitt Romney cemented his position as the front-runner in Super Tuesday voting, but failed to become a prohibitive favorite.

That is nonsense. Sure, wins in Tennessee, Oklahoma and North Dakota will keep Rick Santorum in it, and Gingrich will soldier on after taking the majority of the delegates in his home state of Georgia, but the odds are now so stacked in Romney’s favor that he is not only the prohibitive favorite, he is nearing presumptive nominee status.

There are two reasons why: delegates and money.

First let’s look at the delegates. Santorum has now won six states, those he picked up on Super Tuesday, plus Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado: all states with relatively small delegate counts and all states in which he shared delegates with Romney.

Look at Super Tuesday. In Tennessee, Santorum got 25 delegates, Romney got 10; in Oklahoma he got 14 to Romney’s 13 and in North Dakota he got 11 to Romney’s 7. Now look what happened in Massachusetts, Virginia, and Idaho: 113 delegates for Romney, zero for Santorum.

After Super Tuesday voting, Romney leads Santorum 404 delegates to 161. Gingrich has 105 and Ron Paul has 61. It takes 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination, so Romney is more than one-third of the way there.

Now let’s consider money. Romney won Ohio on Super Tuesday and took home 35 delegates to Santorum’s 21. It was considered the big prize of the day and rightfully so. Santorum had been enjoying a double-digit lead in Ohio just a few weeks ago. So what made the difference? Money. Romney outspent Santorum 4-to-1 over the last few weeks in the Buckeye state.

There are 29 primary states yet to be contested, including the delegate rich states of New York, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Illinois, which also are among the most expensive states in which to advertise. (Pennsylvania would normally be considered a sure thing for favorite son Santorum, but remember, the Keystone State voted to oust Santorum from the Senate in a 2006 landslide).

So, yes, money matters. A lot. And Romney has way more of it than any of his rivals.

To remain competitive Santorum is going to need a huge influx of campaign dollars. But, in politics, donors like to give to candidates who can win and Santorum’s showing on Super Tuesday certainly robbed him of momentum.

In prior years, this race might have been considered over. But in 2012 there is a wild card in the Super PACs, where huge influxes of cash could come flowing into the race on behalf of any candidate at any time.

In the run-up to Super Tuesday, Super PAC spending was totaling millions of dollars per day, primarily from Restore Our Future which supports Romney, the Red, White and Blue Fund formed to support Santorum and Winning Our Future which is connected to Gingrich. Here too, Romney’s Super PAC appears to be the richest.

So we’re not going to declare Romney the winner, or even the presumptive nominee, but the nomination is certainly his to lose.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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