As the race evolves into a hunt for delegates, all the Republican candidates should focus on winning delegates even in states where they will lose the statewide vote, said Jeff Berman, who ran President Barack Obama's delegate operation in 2008. That means targeting friendly congressional districts in some states and local caucuses in others, much like Obama did in his primary battle against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
"With most states adopting some form of proportional allocation of delegates for 2012, the candidates will have to treat this race more like the Democratic contest of 2008, when Obama hunted delegates one by one to build and maintain his narrow delegate lead," said Berman, who recently wrote a book about Obama's 2008 campaign, titled "The Magic Number."
Next week's Super Tuesday contests could go a long way toward defining the rest of the race. A total of 419 delegates are at stake in the 10 states, more than a third of the delegates needed to win the nomination.
The Super Tuesday contests, however, illustrate the difficulty of amassing large numbers of delegates.
Even if Romney has a fantastic Super Tuesday, winning seven of the 10 states and coming in a strong second in Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma, he could get just 60 percent of the delegates, according to an AP analysis.
A day like that could knock one of the other candidates out of the race. But if it doesn't, it would only slightly improve Romney's delegate math.
Instead of a delegate fight at the convention, Romney would be on pace to clinch the nomination with a victory in the last primary of the season — Utah, on June 26.
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