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Defeats for Romney, Jew Pond

Big night for Santorum; and Sheldon Adelson is Romney’s new best friend

Marc Tracy
March 14, 2012
Rick Santorum, victorious, last night.(Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Rick Santorum, victorious, last night.(Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

In last night’s Republican primaries, Mitt Romney actually took home the most delegates, thanks to late wins in Hawaii and American Samoa. But with two third-place finishes in Mississippi and Alabama, in contests he had said he would win as late as Monday, the night was a clear loss for Romney, and Rick Santorum, the winner in both places, put himself firmly in the position of top contender and guaranteed that the primary race will be drawn out for another month or two. He might even have a shot.

The Jewish angle here, in addition to the fact that more Republican Jews back Romney than Santorum, is that one really can credit billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson with much of this. His donations to a Super PAC affiliated with his friend Newt Gingrich proved indispensable, particularly back in January but also now, with keeping Gingrich in the race; and Gingrich’s continued presence in the race is now proving indispensable to Romney’s ability to maintain his status as frontrunner, favorite, and delegate leader: if Gingrich dropped out today, many of his voters (who gave him a second-place finish in Mississippi and Alabama) would, it’s believed, flock to Santorum.

“The race is not going to wrap up anytime soon, and if it becomes a two-man race in fact rather than in theory, Romney could have some long election nights being ground down as he amasses delegates but potentially loses the popular vote,,” writes Politico’s Maggie Haberman. “Once again, Gingrich is, ironically, Romney’s best friend. If Gingrich were to get out, that may be a worse moment of panic for the GOP establishment than if Santorum were to capture Illinois”—the next major contest, next Tuesday.

In other election news, Jew Pond is Jew Pond no more: residents of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, voted 104-33 last night to change the name (any of the 33 there, please get in touch, would love to chat!). I guess, per one Daily Intel commenter, boats in the pond might start to tip again.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.