In his blogger call today, John McCain said he wants to have the nomination wrapped up soon, but assuming Mike Huckabee remains in the race, an analysis of the delegate math reveals that the Arizona Senator will likely have to wait until at least May to officially secure the nomination.
According to calculations based on RCP delegate estimates, McCain needs 387 more delegates to win the nomination. The upcoming races in Wisconsin, Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Mississippi, and the Virgin Islands only add up to 385 delegates. That means that at the very minimum, McCain will have to wait until Pennslyvania on April 22 to wrap things up. However, it may take longer than that.
The tiny state of Vermont, with just 17 delegates, is the only one of those states that is winner take all. Therefore, if Huckabee continues to stay in the race and perform well among evangelicals and social conservatives, he should be able to absorb a bunch of delegates in big states such as Texas, Ohio, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. According to my calculations, all Huckabee would need to do is win 16 percent of the delegates through Pennslyvania, and he will force McCain to wait until at least North Carolina on May 6 to capture the nomination. That’s almost three months from now. I wonder how long the McCain campaign will keep on a happy face about Huckabee’s continued presence in the nomination battle.