This article from Real Clear Politics breaks down the delegate count and state-by-state projections for the GOP nomination fight. My bet (and the author’s) is still on a narrow majority for Romney, but this article does a very detailed analysis of what things would have to look like for Romney to fall short of 1144 before Aug 31. The key points of the article:
1) In order to keep Romney from getting 1144, it would probably take Gingrich, Santorum and Paul staying in it until the bitter end.
Assuming that none of the four candidates drops out of the race, it looks increasingly as if no one will be able to claim a majority of the delegates.
This dovetails with my prediction from earlier this week – Ohio and Georgia are the states to watch for Super Tuesday. Georgia because I think a loss there forces Newt out of contention, and Ohio because a Santorum win there has huge symbolic victory for Santorum.
2) Romney has a hidden advantage based on demographics and election law:
When you consider that a lot of the New England and Pacific states are winner-take-all (or some variant of that), while the Southern and Midwestern states are proportional, Romney’s path becomes clearer.
The #1 thing Romney has going for him is his massive war chest and organization. Those things will keep him reasonably competitive just about everywhere – meaning that in a proportional-delegate contest, he’ll snag a reasonable # of delegates even if he loses the total vote. He can focus his efforts on the winner-take-all States (where he’s strong anyway) to start racking up the delegate totals, and count on his organization to ensure he’s still in the running in the proportional States. It’ll make for a squeaker, but my Prediction #1 stands.