American Samoa Erases Santorum’s Delegate Lead from Last Night

Mitt Romney won Republican caucuses by large margins in Hawaii and in American Samoa last night. According to CNN, his victory in American Samoa by itself was enough to close Santorum’s delegate advantage from earlier in the evening, 9 delegates from American Samoa erasing a 9 delegate advantage Santorum had won in Alabama. (CNN is not showing a delegate total for Hawaii, despite the fact that the official RNC website reports that delegates were allocated according to the caucus vote).
I know there is a narrative being advanced that Romney is wounded because he is not winning states where he wasn’t tremendously popular to begin with, but the fact of the matter is that, under the current primary rules — which reflect the popular sentiment, more closely than a winner-take-all system would — a guy with lots of strong firsts and close seconds is going to be the legitimate frontrunner, ahead of a guy with lots of close firsts and distant seconds. Unless Rick Santorum (or Newt Gingrich) can find several states where they can win overwhelming victories, which really seems to be a stretch at this point, Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee.
The Romney campaign should understand that this dynamic is working heavily in their favor, and risk some magnanimity towards his trailing GOP opponents and, more importantly, towards their supporters.
As of 10 this morning, the Associated Press had the following results for pledged delegate allocation last night, including results from Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii, and American Samoa:

Romney: 38
Santorum: 35
Gingrich: 24
Paul: 1

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