By Garrett Quinn
TAMPA, FL -- If you do the math you know pretty quickly we are in for a long race.
The delegate count is as follows:
- Mitt Romney 87
- Newt Gingrich 26
- Rick Santorum 14
- Ron Paul 4
- Jon Huntsman 2
- Rick Perry 2
Add all those up and you get a total of 135 delegates out of a possible 1,144 awarded after four contests. That’s around 5 percent. Florida, with its winner-take-all system, is an outlier when it comes to most primary contests before April, because the vast majority of the races before then award their delegates in some proportional manner. Some of the races that are coming up are more complicated as their elections and caucuses are only the first step in selecting delegates for the convention in August. The races do not revert to winner-take-all until much later in the race, the biggest prize among those later states is California with 172 delegates at stake.
The states that award their delegates in proportional manner are good for every candidate not named Mitt Romney. The states with a complex delegate selection process, particularly the ones where the delegates can be what is known as unbound, are good for Ron Paul. The legions of Paul supporters across the country have been organizing in these states since 2008, often independent of the national Paul campaign. Plus, Paul’s supporters have been down this road before and they are no longer rookies when it comes to the delegate selection process.
Even though the road ahead is complicated for all the candidates, this doesn't mean Romney’s win in Florida should be tossed out. His win here was a very impressive display of organizational prowess. His victory here should instill confidence in the national Republicans that support him about their chances here in Florida and nationally. Florida is a vast and complicated state requiring an immense undertaking that few campaigns can successfully handle. Only Romney, and to a lesser extent Paul, are equipped to handle what is now a national race because they have had national organizations in place since 2007. Tomorrow, for example, the candidates will be spread across three time zones and three states. Candidates can no longer focus with laser-like precision on some county in Iowa or a precinct in New Hampshire.
This race is far from over.
CORRECTION: This post originally stated 12% of the delegates have been awarded. The figure is actually closer to 5%. - GQ