Romney Can Still Win the Delegate Fight Today

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 13 2012 11:42 PM

Romney Can Still Win the Delegate Fight Today

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The title of the campaign statement is laughable: "ROMNEY WINS DELEGATES IN ALABAMA, MISSISSIPPI." It goes out and reporters start the mockery straightaway. This is all we'll hear from Mitt Romney today? No speech? A brag about delegates in two primaries he lost?

Well, sure. It's spin, but it's accurate. According to CNN's early count in Alabama, Rick Santorum will win 18 of Alabama's 47 pledged delegates; Romney will win 9. In Mississippi it's 13 for Santorum and 12 for Romney. In American Samoa, the most heavily Mormon territory (Utah and Idaho are states, recall), Romney is expected to win nine delegates. The race moves to Hawaii: If Romney wins there, decisively, he takes enough of a 17-delegate hoard to win the night.

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The "math" spin is sad, but not crazy. Four short years ago, Barack Obama blew the Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island primaries on the same day, ensuring a three-month race with Hillary Clinton. His campaign kept insisting that the math would win it for them. His campaign was right. And Clinton's campaign wasn't as shambolic as Santorum's, which having given away delegates in Ohio and Virginia is set to give away more in Illinois (incomplete slates) and D.C. (not on the ballot.)

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.