Newt Gingrich has won only two of the 25 states to vote so far, a win-loss record that makes the 1962 Mets look like a powerhouse, he’s about to find it much harder to get news coverage and he will face even more pressure to drop out from conservatives who say he is helping Romney win by dividing their vote.
But Newt Gingrich is not getting out of the race any time soon.
Here’s why: Gingrich firmly believes that staying in the race is the best way to prevent Mitt Romney from clinching the nomination before the convention in August. And he actually may have a point.
Gingrich explained his rationale to me late Tuesday as results were coming in.
“We’re actually helping because between us – Santorum and I – are stopping Romney,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich knows that it is virtually impossible for him, or Santorum for that matter, to beat Romney on delegates, but he makes the case — and it is not far-fetched — that unless Romney starts winning delegates at a faster pace he won’t clinch nomination by end the end of the primaries.
“My expectation is it is going to be an open convention,” Gingrich said. “I understand it. Everyone in the Republican establishment wants Romney and they’d like everyone else to go home. They’d like to have a coronation but that’s not how this is done.”
An open convention would occur if no candidate has a majority 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination by the time the last primary rolls around in June. Delegates and party elders would then settle on a nominee in August at the Republican convention in Tampa.
If Gingrich drops out, he argues, two things will happen:
1) His vote gets divided between Santorum and Romney. A larger percentage would go to Santorum, but at least some goes to Romney, allowing him to accumulate more delegates; and,
2) Romney is then able to aim all of his considerable firepower at Santorum, destroying him with negative ads the way he twice destroyed Gingrich (in Iowa and Florida).
“This thing is going to go on. You guys need to relax and cover the most interesting nominating process in your lifetime,” Gingrich told me. “Be not anxiety-ridden, this is going to be good for America. This is a good conversation to have.”
And here is another reason Gingrich isn’t any closer to dropping out after Tuesday’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi; he just beat front-runner Mitt Romney in both states.