• Click image to see more photos. (AFP Photo/Sean Gardner)Click image to see more photos. (AFP Photo/Sean Gardner)

    Although he had vowed to stay in the race through the Pennsylvania primary, Rick Santorum dropped out of the Republican nominating contest Tuesday, effectively clearing the way for Mitt Romney to secure the nod.

    While Santorum was still running, there was a lot of speculation as to whether Newt Gingrich's supporters would go to the former Pennsylvania senator if Gingrich dropped out, forming a more united anti-Romney front. (Polling suggests they were about evenly split on their second choice.) The opposite, apparently, is not true. Santorum's exit has provided no benefit to his two remaining challengers when it comes to winning the nomination, and just little when it comes to carrying a primary. Even when Santorum remained in the race, we had Romney with a large lead in Pennsylvania, with about an 88 percent likelihood of victory. That has since gone to nearly 100 percent likelihood, according to the political markets.

    Gingrich is excited to be the last legitimate challenger to Romney, at least in his own mind, having told Justin Sink of the Hill that "there's a conservative, named Newt Gingrich, and there's Mitt Romney." But with Santorum out, Gingrich's likelihood in any given primary contest remains negligible.

    In fact, it's Ron Paul who has an increased likelihood of carrying a state with Santorum out of the way. The market on Paul winning any primary (other than the disputed Maine) jumped to a 7 percent likelihood Wednesday. He has small but non-negligible chances in a few states, including Kentucky, home of his son, Sen. Rand Paul. Santorum dropping out will allow Romney to focus fewer resources on some small states with late primaries, giving Paul and his massive national organization the opportunity for a surprise win.

    Read More »from With Santorum out, it’s Ron Paul, not Newt Gingrich, who benefits (a little)
  • Click image to see more photos. (AFP/Paul J. Richards)Click image to see more photos. (AFP/Paul J. Richards)

    The future of the Republican primary hinges on Pennsylvania, where Rick Santorum must win his home state to hang on to his tenuous position in the race.

    The political gambling markets that we watch so closely are extremely confident that Mitt Romney will ultimately win the nomination. This gives Santorum supporters in Pennsylvania an interesting choice when they go to the polls:

    Option 1: Vote for Rick Santorum. By definition, supporters believe his positions align the closest with their own. Voting for Santorum sends a message to the Republican Party that the voter wishes the party would nominate a person with similar political philosophies.

    Option 2: Hold your nose and vote for Mitt Romney. Presumably, the majority of Santorum supporters would prefer Romney to Obama in the White House in 2013. A vote for Romney helps him end the primary sooner and focus on Obama. Quite simply, it increases the likelihood that Romney wins the presidency in November.

    [Related: Checking Santorum’s delegate math: Are Romney’s numbers really inflated?]

    Here is how an economist like me would approach the problem: First, think about how different your political opinions are from those of Santorum, Romney and Obama. If you feel that the distance between Romney and Santorum is very far apart, and that Obama is not much further from your positions than Romney, then it would be rational to vote for Santorum and send a message of support for his positions. If you feel that the differential between Romney and Santorum is relatively small, and that Obama is much further from your positions than Romney, then it would be rational to vote for Romney and give him a boost in November.

    Read More »from Should Santorum supporters in Pennsylvania vote for Romney? An economist’s advice
  • Rick Santorum may be pinning his last ditch hopes on the Pennsylvania primary to boost his waning campaign, but in reality it's impossible for the former Senator to catch up to Mitt Romney, given his runaway lead in the delegate count. But, that doesn't mean Santorum can't inflict another kind of damage on the former Massachusetts governor. There's still a chance that he, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich can collectively prevent Romney from locking down a majority of delegates before the convention in Tampa, Fla. at the end of August. This is the only realistic hope by which a candidate other than Romney secures the nomination.

    The Yahoo News Delegate Calculator, below, is designed to let you gauge the odds that Romney can reach his mark. Use the sliders and buttons to input your predictions for the forthcoming contests, and we'll automatically tally the numbers and tell you whether any candidate has reached the magic number of 1,144 delegates needed to secure the nomination.

    Read More »from The Yahoo News Delegate Calculator: An interactive look at the primary odds


(177 Stories)

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The Signal is the Yahoo! News predictions blog featuring real-time forecasts and sentiment on politics, economics, and more. MEET THE TEAM: David Pennock, David Rothschild



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