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« Obama Hits Two Milestones | Blog Home Page | Two Tough Fights In NC »

McCain's Math Problem

Technically, the Republican race is not through yet. John McCain still finds himself short of the 1,191 delegates necessary to win the GOP nomination, even though Mike Huckabee, the last remaining serious challenger in the race, is still doing his best in Texas and Ohio. While Huckabee can't win either, he's become such a problem that McCain has severely altered his schedule this week to handle what has to be an increasingly irritating pest.

Last week, McCain began what looked like a general election schedule. He raised money in Indianapolis, met workers at a Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan before raising money near Detroit, and even spent some time in Washington. He started helping down-ballot candidates as well, holding a fundraiser for businessman Jim Oberweis in Illinois that raked in $250,000.

But this week the story has been different. After today, McCain will have held events in four cities in Texas and four cities in Ohio so far this week. His campaign has not made public events in any other states in the near future.

McCain, it seems, just wants this thing over with, something he could, hypothetically, achieve come Tuesday. By RCP's count, McCain is 172 delegates shy of taking the nomination. Together, Ohio and Texas offer 228 delegates, plus 17 from Vermont and 20 from Rhode Island. Vermont and Rhode Island are likely to give the lion's share of their delegates to McCain -- the Green Mountain State delivers all its delegates to the statewide winner, while Huckabee has expended no effort in Rhode Island.

Still, McCain will need a big margin to finish the race off on March 4. Assuming he takes every delegate from the two New England states, he will need 135 of the 228 Texas and Ohio delegates to secure the nod. With McCain up by nearly 30 points in the latest RCP Ohio Average and ahead by 18.7 points in the last RCP Texas Average, he just might do it.

If he falls short, the March 11 primary in Mississippi will be the last chance for him to end the nominating contest before Pennsylvania, on April 22. Until he reaches 1,191 pledged delegates, though, McCain will have to deal with Huckabee. His public travel schedule sends a clear message: McCain wants this thing over with.