Doug Schoen's Perspective:
There is one way to stop Mitt Romney — who despite his two high profile third-place finishes in Mississippi and Alabama last night — has still managed to hold onto his substantial delegate lead over last night’s big winner, Rick Santorum.
Such a strategy however, would require artful coordination between Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
|A Santorum-Gingrich alliance could stop Romney.
Mitt Romney is likely to get close to the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination either by winning them outright or by picking up the 114 unpledged delegates as well as the 86 delegates in states that have already voted that have yet to be allocated before the Republican National Convention meets in late August.
Yet, while the delegate math is looking increasingly good, there has been no real momentum for Romney in terms of the voters.
Despite outspending Santorum and Gingrich by better than 3 to 1 in both Mississippi and Alabama — between super PAC and campaign expenditures — the former Massachusetts governor simply proved unable to rally more than his core constituency of suburban and urban, mostly upscale Republicans.
While Romney has had some success in the Midwest, he still has not been able to win enough evangelical, tea party and very conservative voters to cinch the race.
With the delegate count now 495 for Romney, 252 for Santorum, and 132 for Gingrich, the best way to defeat Romney is if Santorum and Gingrich were to forge an effective alliance.
Put simply, it seems clear that neither Santorum on his own, or Gingrich on his own, will be able to individually stop Romney.
To be sure, so far there is no evidence that either side is inclined to pursue a strategy that goes beyond maximizing their own personal appeal.
But as the race progresses, especially if they both stay in the race, that the two could combine into an effective Santorum-Gingrich ticket that could be presented as the clear conservative alternative.
There are a couple of ways for this to proceed.
First, in the short term, it seems that the only way this could be possible would be for Santorum and Gingrich to operate as informal allies — making a nonaggression pact.
Right now that is not the case.
Santorum — quite rightly — sees Gingrich as the main impediment to him getting a one-on-one shot against Romney, and his supporters have called on Gingrich to drop out.
Gingrich for his part has shown no inclination to drop out.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist, Fox News contributor, and author of several books including the forthcoming "Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond" (Rowman and Littlefield). Read more reports from Doug Schoen — Click Here Now.
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