Santorum May Win PA, But Lose Delegates

It looks like Rick Santorum is committed to a slow death crawl to the Pennsylvania primary, but even if he manages to maintain his modest lead in the polls and pull off a victory, it could be meaningless in terms of his delegate count. The Huffington Post reports the delegates aren’t required to support any candidate, and there are signs Mitt Romney may be further ahead in collecting potential delegate support in Rick Santorum’s home state:

Bob Asher, as one of the state’s national committee members, is one of three Pennsylvania super delegates. He’s also a Romney supporter. Asher told the Morning Call that, “Based upon what I have heard, I think Gov. Romney will likely win the majority of the delegates in Pennsylvania.”

The Morning Call has more on Santorum’s alleged lack of organization in the state, where ground game is crucial becausedelegates are elected on the day of the primary. In a sense, candidates have to run a dual-campaign in the state, with one part focused on typical get out the vote activity and the other focused on winning support from potential delegates.

One Pennsylvania Republican operative who asked for anonymity said Romney and Ron Paul were the most organized in rallying delegates. “I’ll be perfectly honest with you,” the person said. “The Santorum campaign wasn’t involved in the delegate process whatsoever.”

G. Terry Madonna, a veteran political analyst at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said Santorum and his campaign will attempt to spin it that, as in other states, he’s the grassroots guy the establishment is trying to stop. But in Pennsylvania, it’s a harder sell because for a long time Santorum was a leader in the state Republican Party.

“If in fact he does not win the lion’s share of delegates, it continues to show their lack of resources to organize, but you would think in Pennsylvania he wouldn’t need a lot of resources, that he would have support in county organizations,” Madonna said.

The number of delegates Santorum picks up is obviously much less critical for him at this point than simply winning a state, any state, in the hopes that it will give his fading campaign a shot of momentum. But it does go to show how unrealistic Santorum’s chances at the nomination are at this point. Struggling to win your home state, with the chance that it might not even add much to your delegate count, is a sign quitting time is getting close. The question is whether he does it before Pennsylvania, or after. And that’ll likely depend on whether he’s able to stay above water, or at least close to the surface, in the state polls during the next few weeks.