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GOP presidential race seems close, but Mitt Romney has the numbers

Political campaigns are about heart and soul, but in the end it's the numbers that count. Mitt Romney clearly is ahead in the delegate count, and one prominent Republican says "this thing is about over."

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“Romney is still a long way from the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination, but he is the only candidate on pace to reach the magic number before the party's national convention in August,” the AP reports. “At their current rates, Santorum and Gingrich won't reach even half the number needed.”

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Other prominent news outlets have come to the same conclusion.

“Romney Has Quietly Won the Numbers Game,” announces a piece in Barron’s. In Politico, it’s “Mitt Romney's delegate math begins to add up.”

There are several reasons for this: Romney’s dominant campaign war chest, his superior organization, and the schedule of primaries and caucuses yet to be held.

"It’s Romney’s to lose," says Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina, who has yet to endorse a Republican challenger to Barack Obama.

"He has almost a third of the delegates he needs," Graham said on Sunday on ABC's "This Week". "Mathematically, Rick [Santorum] would have to win 75 percent of what remains. He’s done an outstanding job, Rick has, of starting with almost nothing and being a real contender, and Newt’s come back from the dead two or three times. But mathematically, this thing is about over."

So far, neither Santorum nor Gingrich show any inclination to pull out. They may talk of winning by the end of the scheduled primaries and caucuses. “These numbers are going to change dramatically,” Santorum predicted manfully on “Meet the Press” Sunday.

But more likely their strategy at this point is “to keep Romney below the 1,144 magic number when the last primary ends in Utah, in the hopes of forcing a contested convention,” writes Maggie Haberman at Politico.

“That’s certainly the hope,” John Brabender, Santorum’s chief strategist, told Politico, and it’s Gingrich’s expectation as well.

“We want to make the case to all the delegates who are not legally bound that, in fact, the other two candidates cannot beat Obama,” Gingrich said last week. “And if they come to that conclusion, I think the convention may end up being one of the most surprising in modern times.”

RECOMMENDED: How much do you know about Mitt Romney? A quiz.

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