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Rick Santorum Wins Louisiana Primary but Mitt Romney is Still Ahead in the Delegate Race

Posted on the 26 March 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Rick Santorum wins Louisiana primary but Mitt Romney is still ahead in the delegate race

Rick Santorum. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via flickr

Social conservative Rick Santorum has come back from a disappointing result in the Illinois Republican presidential primary with a decisive victory in Louisiana. The former Pennsylvania senator took 49 percent of the vote in the Southern state; Mitt Romney trailed at 27 percent.

Despite the continued presence of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and libertarian-leaning Ron Paul in the contest, political commentators now consider this to be a two-man race between Romney and Santorum. The former Massachusetts governor leads on delegates, but is still a way off the magic 1,144 number needed to secure the nomination before the Republican convention in August.

So is the Louisiana result a game-changer or just more of the same in the rollercoaster GOP nomination battle?

Santorum disputes delegate numbers. Santorum’s Louisiana win only gives him five more delegates than Mitt Romney netted in the same primary, pointed out Katharine Q. Seelye on a New York Times blog, which means the social conservative is still trailing on overall delegate numbers. However, Santorum has claimed current media reports, which estimate Santorum’s overall delegate haul as half of Romney’s, are inaccurate: “There’s a lot of bad math there that doesn’t reflect the reality of what’s going on on the ground,” he told CBS, reported Seelye.

Final fling for Santorum. Santorum’s win in Louisiana was widely expected; the real battle will be in the upcoming Wisconsin primary, said Ben Jacobs at The Daily Beast: A victory for the social conservative in that state “would shift the narrative back toward the delegate-counting stories his campaign has been pushing to no avail lately as Romney has built on what appears to be an insurmountable lead”. And taking Louisiana would also settle the question of whether or not Santorum has “nationwide appeal”, Jacobs argued.

The inevitability of Romney. “With a mix of resignation about Romney and eagerness to get on with the business of defeating President Barack Obama, conservative and establishment GOP officials are going beyond their time-will-tell talking points to all but declare the race over,” wrote Jonathan Martin at Politico, pointing out that high-ranking Republicans such as Jeb Bush have come out behind the former Massachusetts governor. However, Santorum and Gingrich are refusing to play ball: “With no path to reach 1,144 delegates by the end of the primary season in June, both Santorum and Gingrich are pinning their hopes on a convention fight,” Martin said – a scenario the GOP establishment is keen to avoid.

Economic argument. “The Louisiana results suggest that Mr Romney is having his usual problems with evangelicals, Southerners, social conservatives and the white working class,” said an Economist blog. But the overall primary results also suggest a more intriguing trend: Santorum “has a pattern of doing well in states where the economic outlook is relatively good”. This would imply that if Romney is the preferred candidate for voters worried about economic issues, Santorum “is picking up the people who are slightly less pinched and therefore more inclined to vote on themes or principle”.

Joy in chaos. But Doyle McManus at The Philadelphia Enquirer is hoping against hope for a good old Florida convention smackdown for the sheer entertainment value: “We media types all have our tickets for Tampa, and the prospect of covering a real battle there fills us with delight.” And should the nomination race last all the way to the convention, there could be another treat in store for politicos: “For those of us who like chaos and spectacle in our politics, there’s still a glimmer of hope on the northern horizon. Sarah Palin says that if the convention deadlocks, she’s available.”


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