Rick Santorum may have been declared the victor of the Deep South, but Mitt Romney is anything but a loser if you look at the delegates.
The former Massachusetts governor has still amassed enough delegates to likely clinch the Republican nomination by the convention this summer, despite his disappointing third place win in both Alabama and Mississippi Tuesday night.
It's not easy, it's a slugfest, and he's not going to be coroneted, but if you look at it removed from the spin, a reasonable person would conclude that he's likely to be the nominee, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a former presidential candidate who endorsed Romney after he dropped out, told Politico.
The Alabama and Mississippi contests stole the spotlight Tuesday night because the close race polls had predicted and because they became symbols of the very conservative, mostly-evangelical base that Romney has been struggling to win over since the beginning of the primary. Santorum, whose platform is strongly rooted in social conservative values and has always done well among the religious right, won 32.9 percent of the vote in Mississippi and 34.5 percent of the vote in Alabama.
Although Romney did relatively poorly in the two states, he easily swept up Hawaii with 45.4 percent of the vote and American Samoa, two contest that were also that day, racking up at least 41 delegates, according to the Associated Press.
Santorum's win in Alabama got him 19 delegates, Mississippi awarded him 13 delegates and he won 4 delegates for earning 25.3 percent of the vote in Hawaii. That would make his total delegate count for the night at least 35.
The numbers, according to the Associated Press, are as follows:
ALABAMA (98% of precincts reporting): Rick Santorum: 34.5%, 18 delegates Newt Gingrich : 29.3%, 12 delegates Mitt Romney: 29%, 11 delegates Ron Paul: 5%, no delegates
MISSISSIPPI (99% of precincts reporting): Rick Santorum: 32.9%, 13 delegates Newt Gingrich: 31.3%, 12 delegates Mitt Romney: 30.3%, 12 delegates Ron Paul: 4.4%, no delegates
HAWAII Mitt Romney: 45.4%, 9 delegates Rick Santorum: 25.3%, 4 delegates Ron Paul: 18.3%, 1 delegate Newt Gingrich: 11%, no delegates
AMERICAN SAMOA Romney: 9 delegates (6 from American Samoa and three from Republican National Committee members)
The math shows that the former Pennsylvania senator's wins weren't significant to boost his delegate count enough to have any major gains on front-runner. Romney delegate count to-date is 495, while Santorum's is 252 delegates.
A memo written by Romney Political Director Rick Beeson shows that the business mogul plans on focusing on those numbers to shove Santorum aside.
Tuesday's results actually increased Governor Romney's delegate lead, while his opponents only moved closer to their date of mathematical elimination, Beeson wrote, according to CNN.
Santorum's success, however, is enough to keep Romney from putting the primary in the bag and having a clear, easy path to the nomination. With about half the states left to go, none of the GOP hopefuls are even close to 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination. If that goal isn't met, it would mean a brokered convention.
A brokered convention is exactly what the Santorum campaign is hoping for. The ex-senator's wins in Alabama and Mississippi brought him one step closer to make the primary a two-man race between himself, the underdog, and Romney, the establishment business mogul. His best chance at the nomination, as his campaign admitted in a memo published last week by Buzzfeed, is to prevent him from getting number of delegates needed by convention time.
We did it again, Santorum said to cheers in his post-primary speech from Lafayette, Louisiana, another state that will be holding its primary on March 24.