Last night was quite a night… Diehard Romney supporters held vigil into the wee hours of the morning (happy to note many were here on our chat forum!).
While Nate is writing a recap on yesterday’s results, delegate count, and the math moving forward, let me just say Governor Romney hauled in the most delegates!
● Here’s a look at the remaining March
March 17th – Missouri – 52 delegates – Caucus
March 18th – Puerto Rico – 23 delegates – Primary
March 20th – Illinois – 69 delegates – Primary
March 24th – Louisiana – 46 delegates – Primary
● Because it has the most delegates at stake, Illinois will be getting a lot of attention. We’re already hearing it’s another make-or-break state for Romney. Let’s take a look:
GOP contenders turn to Illinois
By Christian Heinze – March 14, 2012
The Mississippi and Alabama contests — like so many other Tuesday primaries before them — were supposed to decide the fate of the GOP presidential nomination.
Except Rick Santorum’s double wins only tabled the decision for a future date. In this case, that might be March 20, when voters in Illinois will cast ballots.
So what do we know about Illinois? There are 69 delegates at stake — 15 of whom are unbound and 54 of whom are bound.
Polling is scant. Last week, the Chicago Tribune released a survey showing Mitt Romney winning 35 percent of the vote; Santorum was second with 31 percent; and Newt Gingrich took 12. Unfortunately, that’s the only meaningful poll of the state in the past five months.
The Tribune’s survey suggests an enormously fluid race, with 46 percent of likely voters saying they could change their minds before next Tuesday’s contest.
That’s a boon for Romney, who’s already begun advertising in the state and can flood the airwaves in the days leading up to the primary.
Heinze outlines the demographic breakdown we’ve been seeing and mentions a couple of wildcards at play. Here’s one of them:
… Illinois’ primary system is open. In other words, any registered voter can show up and vote. In Michigan, prominent Democrats, including the liberal site Daily Kos, encouraged Democrats to vote for Santorum to embarrass Romney and extend the primary season. Romney eventually won, but Democrats did, in fact, make the race more competitive. Santorum won Democrats by 33 percent, and that made up 9 percent of the entire voting electorate.
In Ohio, Santorum once again routed Romney with Democrats, but Democrats only made up 5 percent of the electorate — barely one-half of Michigan’s.
. . .
[A] dilemma for Santorum: In Michigan, he took major heat from Republicans for actively courting Democrats through robocalls. To an extent, you could say it might have worked by helping boost the Democratic share of the vote to nearly 10 percent. But it also provoked considerable backlash among the GOP grass roots. Should Santorum woo working-class Democrats and mischief-minded foes of Romney, and if he does, how should he do it?
Continue reading here.
The Illinois primary is less than a week away. Should Santorum court Dems to derail Romney? No. But, he will.
● Read how Illinois Treasurer and Romney state chairman Dan Rutherford gave Santorum an opening in Illinois.
● Deals for delegates? A rumored development…
Gingrich plan to block Romney could result in a deal for delegates
By Cameron Joseph – March 14, 2012
Newt Gingrich’s plan to keep Mitt Romney from winning the necessary delegates for the GOP nomination means the presidential contenders might have to form a deal in order to avoid a brokered convention, a leading Gingrich surrogate told The Hill.
. . .
Gingrich has publicly stated that his goal is to keep Romney from winning the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination.
His spokesman, R.C. Hammond, told reporters Tuesday night that “our goal first is to keep Romney well below 1,000,” according to reports. He added that if that happens: “This will be the first time in our party in modern politics that we’re going to go to the convention floor.”
. . .
“Santorum and Gingrich now trail Governor Romney by margins they cannot mathematically make up,” Romney political director Rich Beeson wrote in a memo Wednesday morning.
“In order to win, both Santorum and Gingrich need to start netting an impossible number of delegates to overtake Governor Romney,” he added.
But while none of the remaining candidates can over take Romney, they could do enough damage to keep him from winning the necessary delegates.
After listening to Gingrich’s post-election interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier last night, it was as plain as the nose on his face that Newt will not be swayed in his quest to prevent Romney from getting the nomination.
Backroom deals make many Republicans nervous; the article continues:
However, a deal among the candidates would give Gingrich more power. He’s widely disliked by the GOP establishment, many of whom would do anything to keep him from being the nominee. But in a meeting between the four contenders he could be a major power-broker and possibly ally with Santorum to help make one of them the nominee.
Read more here.
This could be Gingrich’s last attempt to be relevant. There is no love lost between Santorum and Gingrich; time will tell if the two of them decide to tie the knot.
● By the way, NBC has pulled Ron Paul’s last embedded reporter.
● Click below the fold to see VIDEO of Romney’s excellent interview today with Megyn Kelly and my happy dance tribute to ALL who voted for The Gov yesterday.