The danger of deadlock

If Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich split the remaining primaries and caucuses – even if Romney wins most of them – we will not have a nominee until the summer and may not have one until the convention in late August.

In that case, kiss our chances of beating Obama good-bye!

With a majority of the delegates to be chosen through proportional representation, Romney would have to win virtually all of the winner-take-all states and do well in the others to get the nomination before the convention in late, late, late August.

If Santorum or Gingrich upend Mitt in even a handful of key states, we will have a deadlock.

Here’s how it stacks up. 

• Let’s assume the best case for Romney: He wins these winner-take-all states: North Dakota (28 delegates), Vermont (17), Virgin Islands (9), Guam (9), Puerto Rico (23), Illinois (69), District of Columbia (19), Maryland (37), Wisconsin (42), Connecticut (28), Delaware (17), Rhode Island (19), Indiana (46), West Virginia (31), Nebraska (35) losing only Pennsylvania (72) to Santorum and Georgia (76) and North Carolina (55) to Gingrich.

• And then assume that Romney “wins” these proportional representation states but has to split the vote with the other three candidates: Alaska (27), Idaho (32), Massachusetts (41), Ohio (66), Virginia (49), Wyoming (29), Kansas (40), Hawaii (20), New York (95), Maine (24), Oregon (28), Kentucky (45).  Assume that Romney “loses” these proportional representation states but still gets his share of the delegates: Loses to Newt: Arkansas (36), Alabama (50), Mississippi (40), Louisiana (46).  Loses to Santorum: Oklahoma (43), Tennessee (58), Colorado (26), Minnesota (40), Missouri (52).

Then, in that case, here’s how the delegate total would stack up on May 22nd:

Romney: 837 

Santorum: 332 

Gingrich: 336

Paul: 127

With 1,144 needed to nominate a candidate.  We would be well into May without a nominee.

• Then, let’s assume that Santorum and Gingrich win Texas (155 by proportional representation) but Romney gets his proportional share (a third of Texas’s delegates are chosen on winner take all. Assume Newt wins them).  Then assume Romney and Santorum split Iowa (28) and Mitt wins the proportional representation battle in Washington state (43).  Still no majority for anyone.

It would not be until June 5th that a nominee would emerge if Romney wins the winner-take-all states of California (172), Montana (25) New Jersey (50), South Dakota (28), and Utah (40) and won the proportional state of New Mexico (23).  At that point, Romney would have 1,250 delegates, about a hundred more than he would need for a majority.

Waiting until June 5th for a nominee against an incumbent president is an unacceptable risk.

But what if Romney loses just a handful of these states?  It would throw the convention into deadlock.  Nobody would have a first ballot majority and this internecine warfare would drag on until the convention itself.

If we are to avoid a deadlock, we have to hope one candidate or another wins them all.  And that probably, at this stage, means Romney.