Rick Santorum's April Showers

Santorum faces uphill battle in month's nominating contests, depending upon who's counting delegates.


April is shaping up to be a tough month for Rick Santorum, but his supporters have pledged to fight until the bitter end.

Santorum is ineligible to compete in the District of Columbia's primary on April 3 because of early campaign organizational problems and, according to the latest Marquette University poll, he is trailing in Wisconsin by eight points ahead of its primary on the same day. Five other states are scheduled to vote on April 24, including Santorum's home state of Pennsylvania, where he enjoyed an 18-point lead just over two weeks ago according to Public Policy Polling. Yesterday, a Franklin & Marshall University poll showed that lead at just two points. The other four states voting on April 24—Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island—are in Romney country, far away from the southern and midwestern states where Santorum has had success.

[See pictures of Rick Santorum on the campaign trail.]

Still, the Santorum camp is not giving up, and his biggest super PAC—the Red, White & Blue Fund—is arguing that the delegate count reported by the New York Times and CNN is inaccurate. In a memo outlining its own delegate count, the Red, White & Blue Fund says that it will be "nearly impossible" for Mitt Romney to receive the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch to the nomination ahead of the Republican National Convention in August. By its count, Romney has locked up 344 delegates so far, and 411 delegates in states that have already voted are still technically unbound. New York Times and CNN put the number of unbound delegates somewhere closer to 150, and they both show Romney's delegate count around 550.

Most of the disparity between Red, White & Blue's numbers and the numbers from New York Times and CNN has to do with its literal interpretation of state rules. For example, while Mitt Romney scored an overwhelming, 17-point win in Wyoming's caucus on March 10, the state's delegates remain technically unallocated even if they've stated an allegiance to a certain candidate. In cases like that, Red, White & Blue calls those delegates unallocated, leading to its portrayal of the race as "indeterminate, unpredictable," and headed undecided to the national convention.

"Mitt Romney cannot secure this nomination in advance of the convention, and the Red, White & Blue Fund will be there to support Rick Santorum all the way," the memo concludes.

Despite that optimism, Santorum will need a win in Wisconsin on Tuesday to silence the growing chorus of headlines around the country calling his long-shot hope to beat out Romney for the nomination all but over.

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