So… this happened.
Rick Santorum swept both Southern primary states of Alabama and Mississippi last night and Mitt Romney finished in 3rd in both. Not a good night for Romney, especially considering that Newt not winning either state might make him more likely to drop out. Rumors are that Sheldon Adelson has “written his last check,” which would leave Newt unable to compete.
It’s also interesting to note that Nate Silver, who has built his reputation by being incredibly accurate in his projections, gave Santorum only a 9% chance of winning Alabama and a 2% chance of winning Mississippi. He did warn that polls of these states for primaries are often inaccurate, and last night they proved him right in that sense, at least.
I still think Romney will be the nominee, but my earlier statement may have been overly confident. Then again, maybe not. Hawaii and American Samoa also voted last night and Romney won 18 of the 23 delegates allocated between them. Even in Mississippi, where Romney finished 3rd, he managed to get more delegates than Santorum, 14-13. As I said before, Romney is the only candidate running a professional campaign, and it shows in the delegate counts from states like Mississippi.
So I still doubt that Santorum can overtake Romney in the delegate count, but there is at least a chance for a brokered convention, and then who knows. On that note, let’s take another look at the only race that seems competitive: Romney vs. the field, or Brokered Convention.
In the last update, Romney was winning the race to securing the nomination before Tampa by 81 delegates. After last night’s performance, the spread has been reduced to 62. Brokered Convention is gaining, but slowly.
These numbers are from The New York Times, and… they changed their colors! I’ve added in the Brokered Convention and although they have dropped Jon Huntsman from their chart, I’m keeping him in there because his 2 delegates matter for the purposes of the Brokered Convention, although they most assuredly will be Romney’s if it gets there.