Political Update: How do the contests in Mississippi and Alabama shake up the GOP race?

By, Glenn Borok

After another enthralling round of Republican primaries, all four candidates will continue on to next week’s primaries in Missouri and Illinois. However, after many Republicans had become resigned to the fact that moderate Mitt Romney (R- Massachusetts) would become their nominee, Rick Santorum (R- Pennsylvania) has given the Tea Party and other right wingers some hope for their vision.

On March 13th, 2012, Rick Santorum swept the two big states, winning in Mississippi and Alabama with 34 percent of the vote. Despite the fact that these states allot delegates proportionally, meaning almost nothing in terms of the actual delegate count, the moral victory for Santorum will now make him a legitimate contender once more. Currently trailing Romney 495- 252, Santorum may be able to stop Romney from reaching his inevitable goal of 1144 delegates to win the nomination with these wins.

Based on Santorum’s numbers it would be hard to foresee him reaching the required number of delegates to win the nomination, but his new momentum could create an unusual and increasingly rare event, a brokered convention. A brokered convention occurs when neither candidate has won enough delegates in the primary process to lock up the nomination before the national convention, which for the GOP will occur in Tampa, Florida on August 27th. If this event were to occur, delegates who were previously pledged to other candidates would be free to re-pledge themselves to other candidates before the second round of voting. The voting would then continue on, until one candidate positioned him or herself with over 1144 delegates.

Another interesting facet of a brokered convention is the addition of other possible candidates. While possible candidates Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Sarah Palin all opted against a long and tiring primary run, they all could easily begin to receive pledged delegates. From there on, they may be more open to taking the nomination because they would only have to complete a presidential run, not a primary one.

Although some see the brokered convention as an interesting possibility, many fear the possible outcomes of such an event. With the Republican party split to such extremes, the brokered convention could be similar to the Democratic brokered convention in 1924, where no candidate was chosen until the 108th ballot.

Despite the fact that Romney now maintains a healthy lead over his competitors, he needs to solidify his status as the nominee, or come August, the Republicans will be anointing another candidate to run for president.