With former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich low in the polls and splitting the conservative vote with former Sen. Rick Santorum, commentators and pundits have suggested that Gingrich should drop out of the GOP race. Political analyst Scott Rasmussen told The Daily Caller that a dispassionate reading of the tea leaves suggests they’re right.
“I think if [Gingrich] dropped out, it would be good for the party and it would be good for Santorum and Romney,” Rasmussen said. “It is much easier and much healthier for the Republican party if you have Santorum and Romney going head-to-head and Ron Paul throwing in a different perspective, than it is to have Gingrich and Santorum fighting to appeal to the same group of voters.”
Rasmussen noted that Gingrich is prolonging the GOP nomination by remaining in the contest, as he has insisted he would.
“The race to get 50 percent is a lot harder if four people are splitting them up,” Rasmussen said.
Gingrich lags behind Santorum and former Gov. Romney with 136 delegates and 14 percent in the polls, stretching his two primary victories in South Carolina and Georgia as far as they will go.
Gingrich’s campaign spokesperson gave no sign of throwing in the towel.
“Santorum and Romney are not bold enough to challenge the Democrat machine,” R.C. Hammond said, dismissing Rasmussen’s comments. “Newt is and he will.” (RELATED: Full coverage of the Gingrich campaign)
While the former speaker may possess that boldness, RealClearPolitics senior elections analyst Sean Trende has seen little success from the Gingrich campaign, concluding that “the numbers just aren’t there.”
Gingrich would have to win 75 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the GOP nomination.
“His goal right now,” Trende explained, “and what his entire strategy is — and he says this — is to keep Romney from getting to 1,144 [delegates], and split up the delegates enough ways that there’s a brokered convention and maybe he can convince all of the delegates to break his way there.”
But Gingrich might be in for more disappointment.
Rasmussen suggested that if anything, it is “conceivable” that GOP front-runner Mitt Romney could go to an open convention with with less than 50 percent of the delegates but a big lead, meaning he would be the nominee no matter what.
“The only way it becomes a brokered convention is if none of the candidates has a big lead,” Rasmussen explained. “If that happens, you have a free-for-all — a pretty unlikely scenario.”
Both analysts agree that if Gingrich ended his candidacy, most of his voters would go to Santorum, but not all of them.
In fact, Trende predicted that Gingrich dropping out would increase Romney’s odds of becoming the nominee. Romney, with 507 delegates, stands twice as tall next to Santorum’s 239 delegates.
“The race right now is between Romney and a brokered convention,” Trende speculated. “It will be very difficult for Rick Santorum to get to 1,144 [delegates], whether Gingrich is in or not.”