Kansas voters aren’t particularly happy that Mitt Romney bypassed their state and they weren’t shy about saying it. WaPo’s Felicia Sonmez reports:
Mitt Romney not only bypassed Saturday’s Kansas caucuses, but he was the only candidate who failed to send a surrogate to Wichita, one of the largest voting sites in the state. …
For the GOP frontrunner to not only ignore Kansas voters by failing to have any presence at one of the state’s prime voting sites struck some caucus-goers here as surprising.
“Republicans in Kansas are very conservative, and Romney’s voting record just speaks to a big-government liberal,” said Karl Watson, a 21-year-old student and Ron Paul supporter. “That really turns a lot of voters off in Kansas. And then couple that with the fact that he was sent an invite to speak at a number of different events, and his campaign ignored all of the requests from Kansans, just flat-out ignored them – people aren’t happy about that.”
Bob White, a 74-year-old retiree and Santorum supporter, said that he will ultimately vote for “anybody but Obama” but that Romney didn’t do his campaign any favors by avoiding Wichita.
“I thought it was awfully bad that Romney didn’t send any representation other than the boring letter,” he said.
Sedgwick County GOP Chairman Bob Dool summarized Romney’s choice, “Apparently, he chose to go to Guam [yesterday]. I understand he picked up seven votes there.”
That’s it: Romney did choose to go to Guam and it was a smart choice. Romney won yesterday’s delegate count without winning a single state. Dool’s comment — and, indeed, the entire GOP primary race so far — confirms: Romney alone seems to recognize that, when it comes to securing the actual nomination, delegate math is most important. It’s something to keep in mind in advance of the primaries in Mississippi and Alabama Tuesday. If Santorum wins both, Gingrich wins both or they split the two states, that’s major — but primarily only insofar as it would help to keep Romney from the magic number of delegates before Tampa. In other words, even with dual wins Tuesday, Gingrich or even Santorum aren’t really in a place to secure the nomination except through a fight at the convention. Politico sums up nicely:
Now, Romney’s foes are eying a different goal — keeping the front-runner from amassing the 1,144 needed to clinch the nomination by the time the last votes are cast on June 26 in Utah, a winner-take-all state that is all-but-certain to be in Romney’s win column. It’s a play that would, they hope, set up a potential fight at the convention.
“That’s certainly the hope,” said John Brabender, Santorum’s chief strategist, although he was emphatic that there is a chance to overtake Romney if circumstances begin to change. “We really think if we go one-on-one with Romney we could catch fire. What he wants to do is go with the rules most favorable to him…there’s only a third of the delegates (that have been awarded so far).”
Brabender noted the campaign is now trying to beef up organization in places like Louisiana, where there are 46 delegates at stake on March 24. They’ve brought on a Sen. David Vitter adviser to run their effort there.
Here’s a way to look at it: Romney has to win less than 50 percent of the remaining delegates to secure the nomination, while Santorum would have to win 65 percent and Gingrich would have to win 70 percent. Anything could happen, but it’s incumbent upon GOP voters to see which way the wind is blowing and consider how they can best improve the eventual GOP nominee’s chances in November.