The Republican Presidential primary race remains Mitt Romney’s to win, but that has more to do with arithmetic and delegates than it does with votes.
With Romney’s third place finish in Mississippi and Alabama yesterday, any prospect of a quick end to the Republican Presidential primary has dimmed and dimmed considerably.
The expectations of a breakthrough in at least one of the two most Southern and presumably conservative states began to fade as soon as the votes were counted, and with Rick Santorum wining both Alabama and Mississippi, and Newt Gingrich a close second, the weaknesses of the Romney campaign electorally became starkly clear.
Despite outspending Santorum and Gingrich by better than 3 to 1 in both states between Super PAC and campaign expenditures, the former Massachusetts Governor simply proved unable to rally more than his core constituency of suburban and urban, mostly upscale Republicans.
Put simply, Romney still has not been able to win enough Evangelical, Tea Party and very conservative voters to close the deal.
Yet, while the inevitably of his nomination has faded a bit, the delegate arithmetic continues to show, perhaps inexorably, that Romney, more than anyone else, still has an overwhelming chance of being nominated.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist, Fox News contributor, and author of several books including the forthcoming “Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield). Follow Doug on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.