Oklahoma: Not Okay for Rick Santorum

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 5 2012 2:17 PM

Oklahoma: Not Okay for Rick Santorum

Here's one more example of how Mitt Romney can ruin everyone else's day, even if his Super Tuesday gains are limited. After Rick Santorum emerged as a credible conservative alternative to Romney, he surged far, far ahead of the field in Oklahoma. A late February poll by Rasmussen reports gave him 41 percent support; the local Sooner poll showed a similar uptick. (Tick is probably too small a word, but you can only type "surge" so many times before your English teacher comes back to haunt you.)

Why would Santorum's percentage matter? If any candidate in Oklahoma hits 50 percent, he snags all of the available delegates. There are 43 at stake in Oklahoma. If Santorum won them all, he'd effectively cancel out Romney's advantage from the free-play Virginia primary.

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But the other campaigns are going to stop this. Today, as Newt Gingrich campaigns in Tennesseee, he has his daughter Jackie Cushman and his brother-from-another-mother Herman Cain stumping in Oklahoma. Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney Super PAC, has been on the air and in the mailboxes of Oklahoma all week, and if I read Beth Fouhy's reporting correctly, the PAC is outspending Santorum by a 50-1 margin. All of this reduces the chance that Santorum can sweep, and will divvy up the delegates so that Santorum's best state is a wash for him.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.