While yesterday’s Super Tuesday results were good for Mitt Romney and not catastrophic for either Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, they were not decisive. Why not? Because the festivities did not involve e Texas, as would have ordinarily been the case.
The reality is that the judicial intervention in what ought to be the strictly legislative process of redistricting resulted in the postponement of the Texas primary – originally to April and no until the last Tuesday in May. That meant that the biggest Super Tuesday prize was off the table – and will not be parceled out for another twelve weeks – when 153 delegates will be proportionally awarded by the Lone Star State.
Which leads us to the precarious nature of Romney’s march to the nomination.
Consider this: if Mitt wins every remaining all-or-nothing state but one, and half of the remaining proportional delegates, he would likely still fall short of the magic nomination number of 1,144—which would force him to rely on unpledged delegates, the Republican version of the infamous Democratic super-delegates in 2008, to claim his party’s mantle.
Even if Mitt somehow won every delegate in every coming contest, he still wouldn’t clinch the nomination until Oregon’s primary on May 15.
And if Romney musters only 40 percent of the proportional delegates going forward—equivalent to his share of the popular vote total to date—it would mean the first Republican race undecided when the convention opened in a generation.
In other words, one or more of Romney’s opponents may be able to slice off enough delegates down here in Texas to keep the front-runner from securing the nomination on the first ballot in Tampa. On the other hand, a sufficiently robust performance among Lone Star Republicans could secure him the nomination by powering him on to victory in California, New Jersey, and the handful of remaining states after Texas votes. It will all come down to how Romney and his opponents perform in a state which has sent Ron Paul to Congress for years AND where Rick Perry still has considerable popularity.
And consider as well the reality of Romney failing to close the deal in Texas – on the second ballot, delegates are free to vote as they see fit. That would leave an opening for Santorum or Gingrich – or a new candidate to emerge in August – to wheel and deal their way into the nomination by means of strategic deals to secure the necessary delegates.
But it all depends on what happens on a day in May in Texas.