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Why Rick Santorum might not benefit from a Newt Gingrich exit (+video)

Rick Santorum needs a big boost in the delegate count to catch up to Mitt Romney, and it's not clear that a Newt Gingrich exit would deliver it.

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And, third, the upcoming electoral landscape doesn’t lend itself to such a performance, whether Gingrich is in or Gingrich is out. There are few winner-take-all states left in which Santorum could make big gains. Instead, delegates are doled out proportionately.

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In some states, candidates have to hit a threshold vote to qualify for this proportional split. Gingrich is fading to the point where he’s unlikely to hit such thresholds, meaning his presence in wouldn’t affect Santorum’s take. In other states, the allocation is proportional by congressional district. Gingrich’s vote now isn’t concentrated enough in any locale to flip a district Santorum’s way.

Got that? The bottom line is that Gingrich doesn’t have enough votes to give Santorum, and the way ahead is so rocky that Rick needs more than ex-Newt backers to boost him to the summit.

As Gingrich himself has noted, Santorum in fact might be better off if the former stays in the race. With two opponents draining away votes, Romney might not hit the figure of 1,144 delegates he needs to wrap up the nomination prior to the party's national convention in Tampa, Fla. And if Republicans assemble in Florida without an anointed champion, all bets are off.

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