Can Romney take 2nd place all the way to the nomination?

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RealClearPolitics is starting to track delegate count, so this will start to grow in importance.

Delegates needed to win the nomination: roughly 1231 delegates are needed.

Of those delegates, 1000 can be obtained through primaries/causes, the rest are unpledged delegates. (2000 available elected delegates, 462 unpledged delegates)

Of the contests that have happened so far we get the following.

Mitt Romney 30 or 43% so far or 3% of total needed
Mike Huckabee 21 or 30% so far or 2.1% of total needed
John McCain 10 or 15% so far or 1 % of total needed.
Fred Thompson 6 or 8% so far or 1 % of total needed.
Ron Paul 2 or 2% so far or 1 % of total needed.
Rudy Giuliani 1 or 1% so far or 1 % of total needed.
Duncan Hunter 1 or 1% so far or 1 % of total needed.
Total Delegates so far 71.

The following is a list of winner take all states.
Rudy Giuliani is expected to win New Jersey and New York on Super Tuesday, February 5, 2008, and those states award their delegates on a winner-take-all basis.

John McCain will likely win Arizona, which is another winner-take-all state, giving him 53 delegates on Super Tuesday.
Mike Huckabee should win the winner-take-all state of Georgia, to earn him 72 points on Super Tuesday.

Mitt Romney is strong in the winner-take-all states of Massachusetts, Vermont and Utah, which yield a total of 96 delegates.

Fred Thompson can be expected to win the winner-take-all state of Tennessee, assuming he wins a majority of the votes, for a total of 55 delegates.

Total winner take out numbers
Rudy Giuliani 153
Mitt Romney 96
Mike Huckabee 72
Fred Thompson 55
John McCain 53
Total winner take all 429.

Total so far plus winner take all states = 929 leaving 1071 delegates

Rudy Giuliani 154 or 846 needed delegates
Mitt Romney 126 or 874 needed delegates
Mike Huckabee 93 or 907 needed delegates
John McCain 63 or 937 needed delegates
Fred Thompson 61 or 939 needed delegates
Total delegates allocated so far = 497 delegates.

That leaves a total of 1503 delegates left.

What percentage of the remaining delegates does each candidate need?
Rudy Giuliani 154 or 846 needed delegates 56% of the remaining delegates
Mitt Romney 126 or 874 needed delegates 58% of the remaining delegates
Mike Huckabee 93 or 907 needed delegates 60% of the remaining delegates
John McCain 63 or 937 needed delegates 62% of the remaining delegates
Fred Thompson 61 or 939 needed delegates 62% of the remaining delegates.

However, if the current trends continue, we will see the following delegate counts.

Mitt Romney 43% or 646 delegates
Mike Huckabee 30% or 450 delegates
John McCain 15% or 225 delegates
Fred Thompson 8% or 120 delegates
Rudy Giuliani 1 or 1% or 15 delegates

While Romney is going to win some states, especially in the west, and will not always get his 43%, there is a good chance that the average will stay the same. While it is unlikely that Rudy will continue to do so badly, but there is no reason to think he will take off either. You can also expect either McCain, Thompson or Rudy to implode and either leave the contest, or just become an after thought.

This would bring us to the following delegate count

Mitt Romney 772
Mike Huckabee 457
John McCain 228
Fred Thompson 181
Rudy Giuliani 169

This brings us to the

The Republican Party does not have super-delegates. It does, however, have 463 unpledged delegates, 123 of whom are Republican National Committee members.

This would bring the need delegate count up to 1231 delegates needed or a total of 2462.

Mitt Romney 772 or 459 delegates short
Mike Huckabee 457 or 774 delegates short
John McCain 228 or 1003 delegates short
Fred Thompson 181 or 1050 delegates short
Rudy Giuliani 169 or 1062 delegates short

At this point, the only candidates who have enough delegates to be consider are Romney and to a lesser extent Huckabee.

So, if McCain, Thompson, and Rudy release their delegates, we would also have the following totals.

John McCain 228 or 1003 delegates short
Fred Thompson 181 or 1050 delegates short
Rudy Giuliani 169 or 1062 delegates short
Total released delegates: 578

There are also another 193 delegates from minor candidates. Add in the unpledged or other delegates 1234 delegates. So if Romney gets 40% of these delegates, and Huckabee gets 60% then we would have the following count. (this is being generous to Huckabee).

Mitt Romney 772 + 493 = 1265
Mike Huckabee 457 + 740 = 1197

Giving Romney the Nomination.


for the math alone. This is a very interesting look at a historic primary season. Great Job!

Interesting stuff. I'm not going to claim I know what will happen, but I like considering all these possibilities given that this primary is already crazy, and promises to get crazier. I don't really buy into the meme of "if so-and-so doesn't win this-or-that state, THEY'RE DONE". Romney has plenty of cash, and a good amount of support in many states, why should he bow out? He'll be in this thing until at least 2/5. The only way Romney gets out after 2/5 is if he gets massively blown out. I believe that to be highly unlikely, so I predict Romney to be in the finals.

“.....women and minorities hardest hit”

Declaring the death of a candidacy is just good TV every weekend. Although it's bad politics imho, it's reality until this ends.

I agree that Romney will be in the finals.

I predict this process will go way past Feb 5th! Even with super Tuesday, the split in delegates will likely not be enough to declare a winner. Thus, I see this going well into the Spring.

Here is the Primary schedule, notice how many states don't vote until the Spring:

It's not beyond the realm of possibility. But I'm still back to thinking that the current situation favors Giuliani as much as anybody....despite his poor showings in IA and NH.

The difference between him and others is that his basic outline for victory hasn't yet taken any defeats. He expected to lose both IA and NH. Romney didn't.

All we have right now is chaos -- and chaos favors Giuliani's strategy. If there is no clear leader when Feb. 5th rolls around, then he may just have a chance to gather enough steam on that day to catapult him. Though, he might also just add to the chaos, increasing the likelihood that we're headed for the dreaded "brokered convention."

I'm not ready to buy into the McCain thing. His campaign's not only broke, it's in the red. And I don't see how he's able to capitalize on his NH win.

It's the most interesting primary we've had in at least a generation, that's for certain.

"I'm not ready to buy into the McCain thing. His campaign's not only broke, it's in the red. And I don't see how he's able to capitalize on his NH win."

He has been fund raising well of late, and likely much much better since Tuesday. Try not to talk if you are going to make things up.

McCain will capitalize in Michigan.

How much has McCain raised since the NH Primary?....You know Romney's campaign raised $5 million yesterday? If McCain goes on matching funds that should automatically exclude him from the nomination period.

but he is running ads in Michigan and south Carolina, and flying around Michigan on a jet. He's been doing very well in fund raising since December. He's definitely doing better now.

“.....women and minorities hardest hit”

"I believe in grace, because I have seen it. In peace, because I have felt it. In forgiveness, because I needed it."

-George W. Bush

...but the previous commenter referenced the jet as a sign of McCain's financial good standing. I'm saying it's not a sign because it belongs to his wife.

“.....women and minorities hardest hit”

But I do know that he took out a $3 million loan about 6-7 weeks ago. I suppose it's possible that he's raised his way out of that and thensome. But it would surprise me.

Usually, there are some fundraising flurries after IA and NH. And, with his win in NH, I'm sure he took in some dough.

But, again, he had a $3 million debt sitting there in November. That I do know. And I also know that campaigns that aren't broke don't take out loans.

I saw that yesterday about the $3 million debt....They need to start asking at the debates to him and Huckabee if they will swear off federal matching funds, though I doubt they'd commit to it.

IF he were going to take federal matching funds, he'd already have done it. It won't help by the time he'd need it now.

Anyhow, if he wins the nomination, Money won't be a problem.

John Bolton for President

I'm not to keen on election fundraising laws but this bothers me.

If I'm a donor to a political campaign the last thing I want is my name and number being sold off to some 3rd party telemarketing firms.

McCain is now showing leads in Michigan and South Carolina. When he wins those states he will be swimming in money.

"I believe in grace, because I have seen it. In peace, because I have felt it. In forgiveness, because I needed it."

-George W. Bush

McCain may do better in the south because of the large concentration of military bases, as well as the fact that many military folks have Florida residency when they are stationed overseas. I haven't seen polling on which candidate is favored by military voters, but it is something to think about.

I guess it depends on whether McCain reaches out to military families.

"The most dangerous form in which oppression can overshadow a community is that of popular sway" -James Fenimore Cooper

...a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right...

---Thomas Paine---

Sounds good to me. I just hope Mitt can really pull this off, if not even better.

"Politics is the business of trying to convince fools to do the right thing."
-Braden Pace

Soon people will realize that the old rule book does not apply this season and they will take Romney seriously. He is in the best position to win running away OR by drawing this thing out. My money, (and my vote) is with Romney.

"Go ahead, make your jokes, Mr. Jokey... Joke-maker. But let me hit you with some knowledge. Quit now". -White Goodman

In this post, and in its excellent predecessor, you assume that McCain will win Arizona, which is a winner take all state. There is, plainly, a very strong chance of this. But do not forget that like other desert/mountain states it has a strong LDS minority. The excellent Mike Becker has stated here that it is about 25% of the total electorate, but about 40% of registered Republicans. In primaries, where lower turnouts are normal, it can rise to 50% of Republicans. A surprise win by Romney in McCain's home state is not out of the question. Fitting revenge if McCain wins the state where Romney's dad was governor.

Quentin Langley
Editor of

International Editor of

If Mormons voted as a block, you'd still be wrong, because there isn't enough of them and McCain is too popular in his home state.

But in this case, they don't even vote as a block, and even their leaders are for McCain. Jeff Flake, the most powerful and influential Mormon Republican in the state, has endorsed McCain.

Romney has absolutely 0 chance of winning Arizona.

John Bolton for President

You will probably see a high percentage of LDS supporting Romney, just like you see a high percentage of Evangelical Christians supporting Huckabee. But that gets you only so far.

But don't under estimate every thing McCain has been doing against the base, including shamesty, McCain-Fiengold, etc. Arizona, just may not back up McCain on this one.

Harry Reid is also a whole lot of other abbreviations that I will not post on a family site such as RedState. :)

...a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right...

---Thomas Paine---

When you make a blog like this one, you can't look at the best case scenerio. Having said that, I expect Romney to surprise a lot in the west and other places.

You can't forget that true conservatives prefer Romney, they have so far in every contest. Without moderates McCain, Huckabee, and Rudy don't stand a chance.

But with Huckabee having a his base of Evangelical Christians, he can't be discounted either.

In the end, it will most likely come down to Huckabee vs Romney, IMHO.

Not sure where Becker got his Mormon population stats for Arizona, but they are way off. According to this site,, Mormons make up 5.45% of the AZ population. Even assuming Mormons are disproportionately Republican, and tend to vote more frequently than other Republicans, there is absolutely no way they will be anywhere close to 50%. I'd think even 10% would be a liberal estimate.

The data is from 1990. The LDS Church has grown substantially in the last 18 years. And generally we are disproportianately Republican. I am trying to find data but it might take me awhile.

No way in the world that Mormons have grown from 5.45% of the AZ population in 1990 to anything close to 25% of the AZ population in 2008. Do you realize how silly that is?

Mormons are 6% of AZ's population according to

Mormonwiki is described as "the free encyclopedia about Mormons from the perspective of faithful members," so I doubt that they are vastly undercounting Mormons.

Check out

which cites a A 2000 survey by the Association of Religion Data Archives found that 45.3% of Arizonans were active adherents to a particular religion. Those adherents break down as follows:[19]

Roman Catholic - 41.9%
Evangelical Protestant - 20.9%
Latter-Day Saint / Mormon - 10.8%

Thus, 11% of 45% is 4.9%.

I think McCain will take Arizona, but it should be noted that Wyoming only had 10% Mormon population and they went 67% for Romney. Even so, Wyoming doesn't have anyone in the race.

The Republican primary is like a game of chicken with five cars. The winner is whoever does not drop out. Who has the nerve?

You need stop listening to Hugh Hewitt.

He'll wreck your life.

Look what he's done for his candidate.

You need to stop swallowing everything the MSM feeds you.

Quentin Langley
Editor of

International Editor of

Your analysis starts out excellent, but I don't think that this projection has much utility:

"Mitt Romney 43% or 646 delegates
Mike Huckabee 30% or 450 delegates
John McCain 15% or 225 delegates
Fred Thompson 8% or 120 delegates
Rudy Giuliani 1 or 1% or 15 delegates"

There is absolutely no reason to believe, based on your projection that Giuliani will win Florida, New York, and New Jersey, that Giuliani will only get 1% of the rest of the delegates. He has the most money and best organization, along with Romney, and has focused more on the Feb. 5th states than any other candidate.

The other candidate's totals are fairly random as well. Romney spent tons of time in NH and Iowa, whereas he has spent little to no time elsewhere and is 4th or 5th in the national polls. If you are going to try to do a very rough guess of future delegates, using the national poll numbers would be much closer than just projecting out the current number of delegates. There is no reason that a candidate with 12% national support is going to get 43% of future delegates.

There are several other factors to take into account as well. Fred Thompson is likely to drop out after South Carolina. Giuliani is ahead in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Missourri, New Mexico, Delaware, and Minnesota which are all on Feb. 5th. Huckabee is likely to win most of the delegates from Alabama, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arkansas. Romney will win most of the delegates from Idaho. Clearly if you look at it state-by-state, Giuliani is poised to win the non-winner-take-all Feb.5th states by a good margin with Huckabee coming in a solid second and Romney and McCain each picking up a handful of delegates from strong performances in a few states. A conservative estimate for the total delegate count for non-winner-take-all states on Feb. 5th could be 30% Giuliani, 25% Huckabee, 25% McCain, 20% Romney. I'm giving McCain more delegates and Giuliani less than the current state polls indicate because I'm sure he'll get a boost from New Hampshire.

Just before Feb. 5th is Maine, which Giuliani should win the most delegates in.

The week after Feb. 5th is:

Louisiana (February 9th) - advantage Huckabee
Kansas (February 9th) - advantage... Huckabee?
Washington (February 9th) - advantage Giuliani

D.C. (February 10th) - advantage Giuliani
Maryland (February 12th) - advantage Giuliani
Virginia (February 12th) - advantage no one

After that the only primary before March 4th is Wisconsin.

Virginia is McCain territory through and through, and with Brownback's endorsement, I wouldn't be surprised to see Kansas go to McCain as well.

If you ever find that you only have an hour to live,spend it with a liberal and it will seem like a year."-Rush Limbaugh

Looking at the national polls is meaning less. Rudy has been way ahead in national polls only to see it slowly slip away as the race continues on. Rudy's numbers are based solely on name recognition. But as nomination continues, the other candidates name recognition are sky rocketing at the same time Rudy's numbers are declining.

Also, the blog assumption is that Romney continues to come in second. Certainly, Romney could catch fire or go down in flames. It is also just as possible that Rudy loses badly in Florida (which I think is happening) and he could go down in flames.

Strong national poll numbers help candidates raise money, build organization, and give candidates the luxury of not winning the early contests.

Reagan and Bush I both survived Iowa losses due to a national constituency that could be evidenced by national polls.

"He has the most money and best organization"

This used to be the mantra of Romney supporters. I think Rudy is a strong candidate, money and organization don't win campaigns.

Phil Gramm had a lot of money and a strong organization in his brief run for the Presidency.

Rudy's has money and organization built up from when he was the clear national front runner. Money and organization are symptoms of support---and lagging indicators at that.

You have a good point. I do think money matters, but organization is probably overrated, although I don't I have the experience in political organization of other posters on Red State.

then he can claim a "real" victory to go with the dissed population of Wyoming.

Rumors are that he banked $5 million yesterday and as a Fred supporter who is looking at Fred being in 4th in the South Carolina polling, I have to admit that I'm looking at Mitt.

Mitt is clearly my #2 .. close to Fred for #1 and way, way, way, way ahead of Rudy at #3 and John at #4 (I can't type "way" enough times to tell you how far ahead of Huckabee Romney falls).

So then only MSM can decide what states are relavant? What about Nevada? The first in the west. What if he continues to lead in delegates. I am happy that Mitt is your 2nd, but got to ask the question, "What has Fred won?" What has Rudy won?

I know that Romney wanted to win the initial contests, but things happen and then you adjust. You change your plans. But lets face its everyones plan to win the most delegates, every thing is second.

Romney's campaign has the money to keep going, they don't. They figure if they can get some kind of equal playing field it will help them..actually it wont' because if Huckabee or McCain are the potential nominees they will both be going to apply for federal matching funds, which is what the MSM wants. It will make a Obama or Hillary win much quicker, and this Grand Ole Party will look pretty stupid if you asked me.

comments saying Fred should quit. Have you not been paying attention?
Rudy is getting a pass right now because of his campaign strategy.
And...none of them have spent the millions that Mitt has to "win two big silvers".

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." ~Professor Dumbledore

When you start off with a totally unrealistic assumption (Romney and others will win delegates at the IA, WY, NH rate while ignoring national and state polls) you get bad results.

If we go by national numbers, Hillary is president.

But you miss the assumption. This is for all those who think that after winning one state (Huckabee, McCain), that Romney is done for.

The point of this is, if everything continues the same, Romney can still win the nomination.

But if you like, you can do your own analysis.

In the same way they pushed for McCain in 2000 to derail the more conservative Bush, they are now pushing for Mike Huckabee.

“.....women and minorities hardest hit”

that certainly undercuts McCain's hope to glide through with the support of independent voters. It also hurts Romney.

Things keep getting curiouser!

That tells us everything we need to know about Gov. Huckabee.

is suggesting that Dems should cross over and vote for Romney (not Huckabee) in the Michigan primary. The logic is evidently that they want to keep as many Rep candidates going for as long as possible. He's afraid that Romney might drop out if he loses Michigan.

Romney is NOT dropping out! WHY in H*LL would ANYONE drop out now? He has the money to go on, he LEADS in delegates, and NOBODY (contrary to the MSM spin) is going to run away with this thing.

Get used to the idea of a brokered convention.

I agree Romney won't drop out after MI, unless he somehow finishes 3rd, and then only maybe.

But so many people are talking a brokered convention as if it's a good thing. The convention ends on September 4, two months (exactly) before election day.

A brokered convention means that any candidate who wants to be the nominee must keep their organization running through September, raising funds and organizing for the Fall while it is still uncertain if they or someone else will be the nominee.

Not being able to raise money, organize or run advertising for the Fall over the summer would be suicidal for us.

Democrats think Romney is a loser, so they want to keep him in the race. They're much more afraid of Huckabee since he has a personality.

that he can be successfully portrayed as a political shape-shifter.

Romney strikes me as the type of person who could solve pretty much any problem you throw at him.

He could probably whoop up on any democrat in a debate.


I want very much for Romney to be the nominee and if it happens as a result of delegate numbers I'll be just as happy as I would be if he flat outraced John McCain through every single primary contest.

I'm pretty sure the MSM will miss-report FL. The popular vote is meaningless. The congressional districts (except mine) are regionally clustered. Rudy could get enough margin in a handful Palm Beach districts to show well on a percentage basis and not win a single other district.

BTW, if my district was a state it would be known as the Commonwealth of I-80 -- shore to shore!

Fred seems to have gotten support up the core of the state, which gets him either spread to thing or highly leveraged. Take your pick.

It's a good thing for Rudy that Florida is winner-take-all.

I live in MA, and I believe we changed to be proportional from winner take all.

see here

which, by the way, are a great resource, also list Massachusetts as a proportional state:

If he keeps finishing only second, he's bound to start finishing third and lower.

In fact, he's looking at that right now. He could fall to third in Michigan, and he might fall to 4th or 5th in South Carolina. I'd put him, at best, at 3rd in Florida.

His campaign screwed up by trying to run him as a conservative. They should have run him as a problem solver.

It's too late now. His strategy has failed.

You're not objective on this guy anyway.

“.....women and minorities hardest hit”

My personal opinion of Mitt Romney has nothing to do with my analysis, which is sound.

Essentially, I said that it would be nearly impossible to run a string of second place finishes, as second place inspires nothing and would cause the candidate to drop even lower.

You, son, have to learn some manners.

I'm just calling it like I see it ;)

“.....women and minorities hardest hit”

I disagree. Why would anyone vote for a pro-choice Romney because he is a problem-solver when they have Giuliani to vote for? Giuliani has the best governing record of any politician in the country. He is "America's Mayor". Romney had to differentiate himself. I don't think he would even be getting 2nd place finishes if he hadn't ran as a conservative.

He was second to two different candidates, which shows a certain degree of consistency. Whereas McCain was 4th in Iowa and Huckabee was 3rd in New Hampshire.

Romney's a very different candidate than Giuliani. And saying he's still pro-choice is just disingenuous.

I don't think he can take 2nd place all the way and win. but I do think he can do something like that to his advantage. to modify your scenario a bit: he will need to regularly add some golds to his silvers IMO, both because that will be necessary to get the respect to come out of a brokered convention which this hypothetical most naturally assumes, and to counter those states where he doesn't manage to take 2nd, of which there naturally be several.

Mitt Romney got backers because he claimed he could take some blue states in the general. He was beaten despite massively outspending Huck in Iowa and McCain in N.H. He lost to McCain on GOP voters in NH!

He wanted desperately to knock out Fred and he did cost Fred the strong third he was on his way to before Politico lied and ran Romneys story that Fred was dropping out and endorsing McCain.

McCain will beat Romney in Michigan, and unless enough Dems cross over and vote for Romney (as Daily Kos is asking them to do) Huckabees populism may even bring him 2nd.

Mitt is 60. He wants to be able to run again in 2012 if we lose in 08. He WILL bow out if he comes in third in Michigan, and will likely leave the race if he comes in second.

Thompson will win South Carolina. After that he will win Georgia, Huckabee will deflate like a balloon and Romneys supporters will move to Fred.

...winning Georgia. Just went to a Romney training session last night and there was a lot of energy there. We are organized throughout the state. No other candidate can say that.

We're also set up to help out in SC.

I haven't found anyone supporting Thompson--some Huckabee fans, but those are fading. Some die hard Paul fans, but that's it.

Mitt will take Georgia on Feb 5th.

Go Mitt!

Politico swears up and down that their sources were high level members of team Thompson. Also, Mary Matalin, who works for Thompson, said that if the rumors came from another campaign, she would suspect that it was tha McCain campaign. The stories blaming Romney for this were put out by anti-Romney blooggers who wanted his voters to move to Thompson. It has ZERO basis in fact.

Fred glasses. I don't think Romney will win MI. But Fred won't win SC either. I don't think Romney should drop out until super Tuesday, if he wants to run again. Firstly he needs to show that he has commitment to the campaign or else fund raising will be tough in 2012.

Secondly Mitt is not going to be an old man. The guy is 60, but could pass for 40, his political life will be longer if he wants.

Thirdly, by staying in through super Tuesday he can gain party prominence and have more delegates. If he does this and the R's win, he can (possibly) leverage the delegates into a high profile position. And if the R's lose he can try and pull an FDR and use the convention of 2008 to launch the campaign of 2012.

Good analysis of why Mitt may want to stay in at least through 2/5, no matter how he does in Michigan.

This is interesting. I think your numbers are speculative and there are a lot of ifs. However, I enjoy thinking along with you. As a Mitt supporter, this is very hopeful.

Conventional wisdom is that Mitt needs to win Michigan or he is done. Conventinal wisdom also had Obama winning New Hampshire. The pundits have no credibility.

I think McCain and Huck despise Mitt on a personal level and might try to steer their delegates to anyone other than Mitt. If Rudy were to take off, I could see McCain or Huck throwing their support to him.

Your post is interesting reading, but we really don't know anything until the votes are cast.

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