There are two stories coming out of yesterday’s primaries and caucuses, the first which has gained the greatest currency that Rick Santorum lost the two biggest contests, the second, mentioned mostly on pro-Romney (or anti-Santorum) blogs that Mitt Romney won a plurality of the delegates.
The former Massachusetts governor cleaned up in American Samoa, winning all nine of the territory’s delegates and won a big victory in Hawai’i, running twenty points ahead of Santorum, capturing an absolute majority on the island of Oahu and narrowly losing to Ron Paul on the big island. As a result, as John Hinderaker pointed out, Romeny “added six delegates to his lead“. Hugh Hewitt says he netted only 5, winning 40 delegates to Santorum’s 35.
That said, Mitt Romney’s failure yessterday to build on his showing in previous Southern contests (as per Jay Cost’s analysis) indicates that he still need do some serious “coalition maintenance” (to borrow an expression Paul Gigot coined in a January edition of WSJ.com’s Political Diary (available by subscription) back in January).
Not quite sure what he needs to do, but it might help him to reach out to some conservatives who have been critical of his candidacy. Should Romney win the Republican nomination, he’s going to need a fully activated, energized and operational conservative base not just to win the presidency but to help his fellow partisans in down ballot races in order to have a governing majority come next January.