Since Rick Santorum’s sudden and frankly rather unexpected departure from the Republican presidential nomination, pundits seems to be scrambling to claim that the process is now over; Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee. However, for the Republican nomination to be truly over, at least one of three things must happen: Either one candidate accumulates the required number of delegates so that it is mathematically impossible for any other candidate to claim victory, every other candidate seeking the nomination must withdraw, or a vast majority of voters are convinced that one candidate has already won.
Given that there are 2,286 delegates at stake in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, that figure means that one candidate must accumulate 50% plus one in order to become the nominee, or 1144 delegates. So have any of the candidates reached this magic number? Although estimates vary given that some primaries and caucus were mere beauty contests and did not actually award delegates, Mitt Romney is the closest. As of April 6th, the RNC had Romney’s pledged delegate at 573. However, some more up to dates sources have him at 656, a little over half of what he needs to seal the deal. Yes, either way Romney has a greater number of delegates than any other candidate, but remains well shy of the mark. So, the answer to the first point is no. No candidate has an outright majority of delegates.
What about the second point? Although the process has eliminated a large number of contenders such as Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Gary Johnson, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain, and, most recently, Rick Santorum, there are still three candidates seeking the Republican nomination. Besides Mitt Romney, there is also Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. Although Romney is leading by a healthy margin, he is not the only choice left. Therefore, the answer to the second point is no as well.
So what about the third point then? Ah, here is where media outlets and establishment Republicans shine. Each have been making and continue to make the point that with Rick Santorum’s departure from the race, Mitt Romney has such a lead as to make the rest of the primaries, caucuses, and even the Republican convention itself to be a waste of time. To these people it is irrelevant that over half of the delegates have not been awarded. Given that neither point one or point two is satisfied, they seek to subvert the will of the folks in states that have not voted.
Are there many grey-colored states left where people have not voted? Well, guess what New York voters? You don’t matter! Neither do voters in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and any other state who has not yet apportioned their delegates. It doesn’t matter voters in these states could affect the outcome of this race, if enough people are told and believe that their voice is irrelevant, then it truly becomes irrelevant. After all, if someone believes that his or her vote will not make any difference, how many people would waste his or her time to go to the polls?
Yes, it is undeniable that Mitt Romney has a significant lead in delegates over both Gingrich and Paul. But the simple fact is that, at this point, he still has competition and he does not have enough delegates to claim the title of Republican nominee. To claim otherwise is wishful thinking at best, and an outright lie at worst.
Many Republicans want the nomination process to be over so that Republicans of all stripes will stop attacking examining and criticizing the GOP candidates and rally behind the banner of stopping Obama at all costs. However, calling the process before it is truly over, as many news outlets and pundits are attempting to do, will likely create feeling of disenfranchisement and crack open greater fissures in the Republican base. After all, if a Gingrich or Paul supporter thought the system rigged or that his or her candidate were cheated through early disqualification, that belief might cause scores of typical Republican voters to abandon the Republican nominee. Therefore, the end result of such tampering could be four more years of President Barack Obama. How many Republicans could claim that they desire such an outcome?