Romney Takes Puerto Rico GOP Primary

Sunday Mitt Romney won all 20 delegates at stake in Puerto Rico’s GOP primary, adding to his lead in the race for delegates. While Puerto Rico assigns delegates proportionally, should any single contender receive more than 50 percent of the vote they are awarded all 20 GOP delegates. Romney garnered 83 percent of GOP ballots after 52 percent of precincts had reported and will easily exceed the 50 percent margin when all ballots are counted.

Rick Santorum may have contended in Puerto Rico till earlier this week when he said that English should be the principal language in Puerto Rico before it could gain statehood. Puerto Rico will vote on a statehood referendum in November. While a large majority of American’s would likely agree with Santorum’s sentiments, Puerto Rico wasn’t the place to express it; the misstep brings into question Santorum’s judgment.

Romney wins Puerto Rico GOP primary

Romney has taken a commanding lead in GOP delegates over his three opponents primarily by outspending them, sometimes by five to seven times. While Romney is accumulating the numerical advantage his popularity with the GOP base doesn’t appear to be improving and for the first time some party insiders are expressing their own concern that at the rate of Romney’s spending he should’ve sealed the deal long ago. With less than a tenth of the campaign funds Santorum has given Romney fits which points to a distinct weakness in the ex-Governor’s appeal.

Pressure for Newt Gingrich to drop out has been ramping up by those that believe that most of Newt’s support would drift to Santorum setting up a one-on-one competition between the Pennsylvania Senator and the Massachusetts Governor. Romney desperately needs Gingrich to stay in the race because if a majority of Newt’s supporters did move to Santorum it is quite likely that Romney would be in real trouble. Once the GOP primaries move to winner-take-all in a few weeks the Santorum-Gingrich split of the Conservative vote is Romney’s best hope to accumulate enough delegates before end of the primary season to insure a first ballot victory at the GOP Convention in August. If a majority of Gingrich’s support had gone to Santorum he would’ve won Michigan and Ohio, quickly ending any hopes of a Romney nomination.

As much as the pundits say that Gingrich is done, his opponents are doing their best to prove otherwise. Gingrich trails badly in GOP delegates having only won South Carolina and Georgia. Newt has managed to gather a few delegates due to proportionality, but his failure to win in the neighboring states of Mississippi and Alabama were devastating. Still Romney’s inability to appeal to core GOP voters, Santorum’s gaunt campaign organization and missteps give Newt hope that neither of his opponents will have closed the deal by the end of the primary season in June.

Meanwhile Ron Paul has appeared to go into hiding as the media has almost dropped all coverage of the Texas Congressman. When the GOP debates were ongoing it was impossible for the press to totally ignore Mr. Paul; now that the entire campaign is taking place on the ground they’ve apparently chosen to pretend he doesn’t exist. Did Ron Paul ever have a chance to win the nomination? No. Not because he isn’t a brilliant man, but because the GOP base simply cannot accept his Switzerland-ish foreign policy positions.

GOP in Disarray

So the GOP finds itself in a real pickle: the strongest candidate financially may outspend his rivals to the nomination only to hope that dissatisfied party loyalists will hold their noses and vote for anybody-but-Obama. The strongest Conservatives want Santorum but don’t truly believe he can win; they vote with their hearts and hope for the best. Gingrich appears weaken by his inability to beat Santorum, someone he should easily thrash, leading to a near write-off of the Speaker’s chances.

If there was ever a way to blow a near-certain victory you’re watching the GOP do it. Today’s GOP is beginning to look a lot like “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”