Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is likely to find Virginia very helpful in locking up his party’s nomination: challenger Rick Santorum is not on today’s ballot. How do Virginia’s delegates work and how much help will Virginia provide the former Massachusetts governor?
Virginia is one of ten states involved in today’s Super Tuesday primary. However, Mitt Romney, who leads the four current Republicans running for their party’s nomination, and Ron Paul are the only two candidates that will appear on Virginia ballots.
Current candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich will not have their names on the ballot after failing to meet the required number of signatures that the Commonwealth requires. In mid-January, a federal judge denied their request to bypass the signature requirement.
While Mr. Gingrich’s popularity has wained in recent weeks, Rick Santorum is currently the most viable alternative to Mitt Romney. Because Mr. Santorum’s name will not be on the ballot, Mitt Romney will likely win at least a majority share of Virginia’s delegates.
The ten states voting today will influence a total of 422 delegates. Virginia will decide 49 of them. The majority of those delegates (33) are winner-take-all by Congressional district. Another 13 delegates are awarded to the candidate that wins the state, and 3 are “super delegates” that can vote for any candidate as they are bound by no electoral stipulations.
With only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul appearing on the ballot, there is a strong possibility that Romney will at least win 46 of Virginia’s 49 delegates. Nate Silver of the New York Times blog Five-Thirty Eight predicts that Romney will earn 217 votes this evening, with the possibility that Virginia delegate apportionment will make up roughly 22% of Mr. Romney’s total delegate gains.
The absence of his name on the Virginia ballot all but insures that Rick Santorum will not match Romney’s delegate gains this evening, allowing Mitt Romney ever closer to the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination.
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