What Santorum Means By the Odds of an Open Convention ‘Increasing’

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That’s the line he used Monday morning in an interview with CBS News. Here’s what he can’t say, but really means:

The already slim chances of Santorum securing the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the nomination are rapidly decreasing. Mitt Romney routed him in Puerto Rico over the weekend and two polls out Monday show him trailing by 14 or 15 points in Illinois, which holds its primary on Tuesday. Besides a hospitable Southern contest in Louisiana on Saturday and a home-turf primary in Pennsylvania on April 24, the next month is likely to see Santorum fall further behind Romney’s delegate lead.

Newt Gingrich didn’t drop out after losses in Mississippi and Alabama. Santorum’s only shot at winning the nomination outright was in a two-man race with Romney. That’s not going to happen, but Gingrich sticking around actually makes Santorum’s hopes for an open convention slightly less fantastical. While Santorum would get more voters if Newt dropped out, some of them — and by extension some delegates — would go to Romney, making it easier for the front-runner to clear the 1,144 hurdle.

They’re all Ron Paul now. Santorum has basically adopted Paul’s, let’s say optimistic, strategy of seeking success without “victory.” Scrounging for unbound party officials and obscure delegate caches are now the name of the game for everyone left in the race except Romney, in the hope that a win here and there can combine to deny Mitt a majority at the convention. Like Paul, Santorum has to believe this will work. Even when the news isn’t so good.

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