Inevitable No More: "Everything's In Play"

Posted: Feb 08, 2012 6:25 PM
With a surprising sweep last night, Rick Santorum has jumped into second place in the race for Republican delegates and put substantial pressure on Mitt Romney.

Overall, Romney has 112 delegates, including endorsements from members of the Republican National Committee who automatically attend the party's national convention and can support any candidate they choose. Santorum has 72 delegates, Gingrich has 32 and Paul has nine.

The race for delegates is still in the early stages. It will take 1,144 delegates to win the GOP nomination.

There's a long road ahead, and Super Tuesday has become more imporant than ever. Texas alone will apportion more delegates on March 5 than any candidate has mustered so far, and that's just one of eleven contests that day. In between now and then, we'll go through the Arizona and Michigan primaries, with 59 delegates at stake between the two.

After having to contend with Newt Gingrich, Romney took the fight to Santorum today and acknowledged that his veil of inevitability had been pierced. "There's no such thing as coronations in presidential politics," Romney said. "It's meant to be a long process."

Political analysts have acknowledged that Santorum changed the race last night.

"I don't think this changes the title of front-runner (for Romney), but it underscores the fundamental problem he has with the party base," said Larry Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics. "They just don't trust him, and they don't connect to him personally. He has serious, serious problems."

"After yesterday, I think everything's in play," said Jim Haynes, the president of the Phoenix-based Behavior Research Center, a nonpartisan market research and polling firm.

Whether or not Santorum can make significant inroads in the next month will have to be seen, but one thing's for sure: the road to the GOP nomination just got a little rockier.