Romney campaign claims his nomination now inevitable. Premature?

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s Super-Tuesday primary victories in six states, the Romney campaign is putting out the word, on background only, that it would take an act of God for anyone other than Mitt to win the Republican nomination for president. They claim Romney only needs 48% of the remaining delegates to win, but Santorum would need 65%, and Gingrich 70%, both improbable given the proportional voting in most of the remaining primaries and caucuses.

The New York Times and Associated Press estimate Romney’s current delegate strength at 415, more than that of all the other Republican contenders combined. The magic number required to win the Republican nomination for president at the party’s August national convention in Tampa is 1144.

While it does seem unlikely that either Santorum or Gingrich will be able to corral that number of delegates before the convention, it’s not clear that Romney will either. The possibility remains out there that no candidate will go into the convention with the nomination in the bag, creating the possibility of a brokered convention.

Romney is fortunate that, thanks to the new super-PAC’s that can receive unlimited contributions from anyone, none of his three remaining Republican rivals needs to drop out of the race for want of cash. By outspending his opponents, Romney can continue to eke out victories as long as the conservative opposition he faces is divided. No one doubts that if Romney were instead facing a single conservative opponent, his eventual nomination would be far less likely.

Romney says the long primary campaign is good for him and his party, making both stronger. If he really believes that, he’s surely the only person who does.

Despite massively outspending all the others, Romney barely edged out former Senator Santorum in Ohio and Michigan, and suffered significant losses in other states. His most reliable base has proven to be along the East Coast, and it will be many weeks before the campaign returns again to that zone of comfort.

There may be a dry spell for Romney victory speeches in the next few weeks after successive primaries in Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Illinois, and Louisiana. The campaigns won’t return to the East Coast until April, with the Romney campaign looking forward in particular to the April 24 primaries in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

There may still be time for Democrats and Independents to participate in the late Republican primaries, even where limited to registered Republicans. In Pennsylvania, voters have until March 26 to register or change their registration to vote in the Republican primary. In New Jersey, voters have until April 11 to register or change registration for that state’s June 5 Republican primary. In Delaware, sorry to report, the deadline has already passed.

An August 27-30 brokered Republican national convention in Tampa, where no candidate has the required 1144 delegate votes for the nomination, would be a huge news story welcomed by journalists and pundits everywhere. And by President Obama and his supporters.

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