Santorum Can’t Win for Almost Winning

Today Republicans in the State of Washington will caucus in a contest that doesn’t award delegates, so based on that fact, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that Rick Santorum will win. Why? Because, in addition to his women-folk issues, gay-people issues, and Satan issues, Rick Santorum has delegate issues.

Even when the guy almost wins, it seems that he manages to lose. On Wednesday, Santorum senior adviser John Brabender convened a call with reporters to put out the word that he expected, once the photo-finish results of Tuesday’s Michigan primary were certified by the secretary of state, that Santorum would have tied Mitt Romney in the apportionment of delegates.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the apportionment; an unexpected interpretation of the primary’s rules granted both of Michigan’s at-large delegates to Romney, giving him a two-delegate win over Santorum. (Although Romney won 3 percent more of the vote than Santorum, Michigan’s delegates are apportioned according to who won each congressional district, which amounted to an even split.) The Santorum people argue that the popular vote results were sufficiently close to warrant, under the rules, the splitting of the at-large delegation between the two candidates. The Santorum campaign subsequently filed a complaint with the Republican National Committee.

Then there’s Ohio, where, commenter danp reminds us, Santorum is leading in the polls. Blogging at Pandagon, Jesse Taylor calls our attention to Santorum’s Buckeye delegate problem. Citing the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Taylor delves into the deeper meaning of the fact that Santorum has already been disqualified from the ballot winning delegates in three Ohio congressional districts, and the Ohio Republican Party now says he may be disqualified in an additional six, which would make him inelegible to even contest for 29 percent of the 63 delegates up for grabs in the state’s Super Tuesday primary. UPDATE: At issue is whether or not the Santorum campaign submitted a full slate of delegates in these districts.

As Taylor sees it, that’s not just evidence of Santorum’s haplessness; it’s an indication of Romney’s weakness that he should have to fight so hard against such a schlub. From Pandagon:

One reason that Romney is likely to be a much weaker nominee than he should be is because he can’t beat the incompetently run and underfunded Santorum and Gingrich campaigns, despite months of demonstrated inability on their parts to string together a competent message or structure beyond a week or two. Santorum can’t win almost a third of Ohio’s delegates. That’s the sort of thing the vanity campaign of a candidate who never polled above one percent does, not the guy who’s been an arguable frontrunner for the past few weeks.

Romney will win the nod this year because he ran the least awful campaign. “Least awful” is the standard you use for buying kitchen utensils at a dollar store, not for nominating the figurehead of a major political party.