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If Gingrich dropped out

Rick Santorum did better last night than polling expected, winning the primaries in both Alabama and Mississippi. In only one of eight polls on Nate Silver’s blog was Santorum ahead in Alabama. Between them, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich were expected to win these, where a sweep for one candidate or a split between them. Although Gingrich has had a poor campaign, his political base since 1979 has been in nearby Georgia, which he won on Tuesday, 6 March.

In the end, the results were:

Alabama: Santorum 35%, Gingrich 29%, Romney 29%, Paul 5%

Mississippi: Santorum 33%, Gingrich 31%, Romney 30%, Paul 4%

Now the tally between the states stand at 15–9–2 to Romney–Santorum–Gingrich. Romney has neither a convincing enough lead nor the momentum to to force the others out, so will muddle on.

Had Gingrich dropped out two weeks ago, we could have been looking at a 14–10–1 split instead; this assumes that most Gingrich voters would have voted for Santorum in Ohio, which Romney won by less than 1%, and in Georgia.

We’re looking at a similar situation now. The next state up is Illinois, this coming Tuesday, and the latest polling shows Romney 35%, Santorum 31%, Gingrich 12% and Ron Paul 7%. New Gingrich is talking more about stopping Mitt Romney and less about becoming the next president of the United States. But he still intends to carry on to the Republican National Convention Tampa, Florida on 27–30 August.

If Gingrich did pull out, and Illinois Republicans voted for Santorum, Romney would be seriously damaged. Still more likely to be the nominee, but less likely than he is right now. It would be a one-on-one race between Santorum and Romney (with Paul picking up votes that would probably not otherwise go to either in the primaries). But with Gingrich’s sense of self-worth, seeing votes come in for his name as a candidate for president probably means more to Newt than damaging Romney’s chances. As it is, he serves simply as a spoiler for Romney.

  1. Mick Lindsay
    14 March, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Had Newt dropped out two weeks ago, Georgia, Alaska and Ohio would have likely gone to Santorum. Meaning it would be 13-12-1.
    Missouri votes Saturday, 52 Delegates in a non-binding caucus. The way things are today Santorum will win. He can claim the sound bite of being “true-conservative” who can actually win nomination. Illinois is 3 days later. He goes in having just won the neighbouring state for the 2nd time, things start to look up for the former senator from Pennsylvania.

    • William
      14 March, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      Good spot on Alaska, you’re right there (of course, we don’t know in any of these cases, but it does seem quite likely they’d have gone Santorum over Romney).
      The results from Missouri don’t come out till then end of next week, but we are looking at Santorum there, he won the primary there very easily, though without Gingrich on the ballot.

  2. Mick Lindsay
    14 March, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Yeah, of course. Can never predict what would happen. Same way we think about what would happen had Cowen still been leader for GE11.
    Didn’t realise that about Missouri. The process is a head scratching mess. I would feel they should have a uniform standard organised by the parties themselves. Some hard line constitutionalists might bring up the 10th amendment though. Despite the fact it has nothing to do with the Federal Government.

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