Rick Santorum’s Chances Are Slim, But Does He Still Have Reason to Hope?

There were ten states that participated in the Republican primaries on Super Tuesday. The candidates competed for a total of 419 GOP delegates across the country, from Massachusetts to Idaho to Alaska. While Gingrich and Romney both had claims to a home state (in Romney’s case, he has ties to four), Rick Santorum did not. Nonetheless, he decided to adopt a temporary home state for the contest. The state chosen for the task was Oklahoma.

With his home state of Pennsylvania not scheduled to hold its primary election until April, Santorum declared that of the Super Tuesday states, he felt most at home in Oklahoma. At a rally near Tulsa on Sunday night, Santorum announced that “if I have any home state on Super Tuesday, it’s here in Oklahoma.” Much of this professed kinship, however, was probably due to the state’s Republican track record. Oklahomans have voted firmly for the Republican candidate in the last three presidential elections. This very red state was undoubtedly extremely appealing to the man who paints himself as the “true conservative.”

Santorum was also publicly supported by several conservative Republican state legislators (14 to be exact, according to Santorum’s campaign website).This support appeared to have impacted everyday voters as well, as Santorum was considered to be the leading candidate in Oklahoma prior to the primary.

Santorum was undoubtedly hoping for a large victory in the state, whose 43 delegates could increase his pre-Super Tuesday delegate count of 92 by about half. A strong showing on Super Tuesday seemed to be the only thing that could help Santorum catch up to Romney, who has amassed more than double Santorum’s total number of delegates.

As it turned out, Santorum did win the state (along with two others), but he did not succeed in attaining as wide a margin of victory as once thought. Instead, he received only 34% of the vote, which gave him 14 of Oklahoma’s delegates. Romney received 13 delegates as did Newt Gingrich, who won 10 counties in the state. (The other three Oklahoma delegates remain unpledged.)

Santorum’s hopes rested on a large number of delegates from Oklahoma to gain some momentum in his favor. He believed the momentum of a big win in Oklahoma would carry into Alabama and Mississippi, eventually leading to his turning the race around and winning the Republican nomination.

After the Super Tuesday delegates were counted, Romney had won six of the ten state contests, bringing him to a total of 429 delegates (about 37% of the number needed to win the nomination). Santorum’s count now stands at 169. This still leaves the question of Santorum’s momentum unanswered. He may still be able to use his Super Tuesday victories to gain support in other southern conservative states. But as Mitt Romney pulls farther out of reach, it appears that Santorum’s chance of a comeback is narrowing.

However, while Santorum’s presidential hopes seem to be doomed, he may still have a shot at being named Romney’s running mate. The affinity between the two has grown over the course of the campaign, and Santorum’s popularity could help boost Romney if he has any hope of beating the incumbent Obama. So while it is unlikely that Santorum will win the nomination, he still has reason to hope for an executive position.

Photo Credit: markn3tel

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Tracey Bark

Tracey Bark is an undergraduate student at the University of Oklahoma. Tracey is currently pursuing a dual degree in Political Science and Journalism with a minor in History, and plans to obtain a Master's Degree in Political Communication following her graduation. As a career goal, she aims to eventually become a political reporter located in Washington, D.C.

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