Santorum's Louisiana win does little to change the game of delegate math

Santorum: 11th win like Ronald Reagan
Santorum: 11th win like Ronald Reagan

    JUST WATCHED

    Santorum: 11th win like Ronald Reagan

MUST WATCH

Santorum: 11th win like Ronald Reagan 02:35

Story highlights

  • With 100% of precincts reporting, Santorum wins 49% of vote
  • Santorum will pick up at least eight delegates
  • Mitt Romney has large lead in delegates nationally
  • Santorum touts himself as conservative in race

Rick Santorum's convincing win in Louisiana's GOP primary does little to change the delegate math that has rival Mitt Romney with a more than 2-to-1 lead, raising questions about whether he can generate broader appeal to win the nomination.

Santorum told supporters after Saturday's win in Louisiana that the race was far from over, recalling the naysayers who said Ronald Reagan was too conservative to win the nomination.

"Ronald Reagan fought that battle in 1976 and he did something that had not been done since: as someone as a conservative running against the establishment, he won 11 states. Well tonight, thanks to the great people of Louisiana, we have won our 11th state in this primary fight," he said.

But the road ahead is a difficult one for Santorum, who is slogging it out in what has become a game of numbers to clinch the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination.

Santorum will pick up at least eight of the 20 delegates up for grabs, according to a CNN estimate. Going into Louisiana, Romney had 563 delegates, more than twice the 251 Santorum had.

Santorum after win: Race far from over
Santorum after win: Race far from over

    JUST WATCHED

    Santorum after win: Race far from over

MUST WATCH

Santorum after win: Race far from over 01:09
PLAY VIDEO
Etch A Sketch creates campaign mischief
Etch A Sketch creates campaign mischief

    JUST WATCHED

    Etch A Sketch creates campaign mischief

MUST WATCH

Etch A Sketch creates campaign mischief 02:46
PLAY VIDEO
Can Gingrich deliver a win in Louisiana?
Can Gingrich deliver a win in Louisiana?

    JUST WATCHED

    Can Gingrich deliver a win in Louisiana?

MUST WATCH

Can Gingrich deliver a win in Louisiana? 02:18
PLAY VIDEO
Gingrich: Santorum didn't mean it
Gingrich: Santorum didn't mean it

    JUST WATCHED

    Gingrich: Santorum didn't mean it

MUST WATCH

Gingrich: Santorum didn't mean it 01:30
PLAY VIDEO

With 100% of the precincts reporting late Saturday, the former Pennsylvania senator won handily with more than 91,000 votes or 49% of the vote, according the Louisiana Secretary of State's unofficial tally. Romney picked up more than 49,000 votes or 27% of the vote, it said.

Former GOP House Speaker Next Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul finished a distant third and fourth, respectively. Gingrich picked up more than 29,500 votes or 16%, while Paul captured more than 11,000 votes, about 6%.

The candidates slogging it out for the GOP presidential nomination get a few days of breathing space before the next round of primaries on April 3 when delegates in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia will be up for grabs.

Of the candidates, Romney had the least at stake in Louisiana with polls predicting a finish behind Santorum. He has yet to win in the Deep South and wasn't expected to reverse the trend in Louisiana. Friday was the only day he spent campaigning in the state.

While Romney called Santorum to congratulate him on his Louisiana win, the two camps were already jockeying to spin the win.

"Rick Santorum is like a football team celebrating a field goal when they are losing by seven touchdowns with less than a minute left in the game," Ryan Williams, a Romney campaign spokesman, said in a statement released shortly after the call.

Santorum's team countered with their own statement: "Louisiana voters overwhelmingly rejected Mitt Romney's push to press the reset button, because they know that we need a clear contrast to President Obama's disastrous policies. "

But the big question remains whether Santorum's showing in Louisiana will matter much, given Romney's huge delegate lead.

"Santorum can't just win, he has to win big. He's the one who needs to 'shake up' this race. Another ho-hum win in the South doesn't cut it. He's on a political bridge to nowhere and is running out of time to change destinations," said Bruce Haynes, a GOP strategist and managing partner of Purple Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs consulting firm.

Pressure is likely to continue to mount on Gingrich to get out of the race after his Southern strategy failed, with wins only in Georgia and South Carolina.

But Gingrich vowed Saturday to stay in the race until the Republican National Convention in Florida in August.

"This is clearly still an open race," he said late Saturday. "So, on behalf of the more than 176,000 Americans who have donated to Newt 2012, I will carry our solution oriented campaign to Tampa."

      Election 2012

    • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage with first lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

      Obama makes history, again

      A black man is returning to the White House. Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.
    • CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 06:  U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage after his victory speech at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

      Five things we learned

      The 2012 presidential election shattered spending records, further polarized a divided country and launched a thousand hashtags.
    • Demanding more from second term

      Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
    • US President Barack Obama addresses a crowd of supporters on stage on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney. AFP PHOTO/Jewel Samad        (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

      Victorious Obama faces challenges

      The president faces a long and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to victory.
    • GOP retains grip on House

      Republicans kept a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives, a crucial victory after the party failed to wrest away the presidency from Barack Obama and the Senate from the Democrats.