I previously argued that Santorum should not be clamoring for Gingrich to drop out – that his best chance of winning the GOP nomination is at the convention, and the best chance of a contested convention is with as many candidates scraping for delegates as possible.
It looks like Santorum’s campaign is at least recognizing the first part –
Majority Needed for Romney, Not for Santorum
Mitt Romney must have a majority on the first ballot in order to win the nomination because he will perform worse on subsequent ballots as grassroots conservative delegates decide to back the more conservative candidate. Subsequently, Santorum only needs to be relatively close on the initial ballot in order to win on a later ballot as Romney’s support erodes.
The Buzzfeed article I linked to makes it seem like the strategy memo is a concession by the Santorum campaign that they can’t win the nomination outright, but the actual memo is six pages of argument that he CAN win the nomination by building momentum in April/May – the paragraph quoted above is about the only place it mentions the “convention” strategy.
For his part, I think Romney also sees that a contested convention is not in his favor – a failure to get 1144 will be seen as a failure on his part, and I don’t see delegates that show up expecting to vote for an “anti-Romney” all of a sudden changing their mind at the convention itself. Romney is already pitching the argument that a contested convention would be bad for the GOP.
All of that said, I do want to stop and recognize a flaw in my “Keep Gingrich in” strategy for Santorum – Gingrich helps get to a brokered convention in proportional delegate States, but effectively splits the vote in winner-take-all States. I’m not sure how that math ends up, but with Gingrich out, Romney would likely get more delegates in proportional states and (possibly) fewer in winner-take all States like CA and NY.