There seems to be a determined chorus coming from Republican party leaders and insiders pushing the idea that it's time for Rick Santorum to get out of the primary race and arguing the inevitability of a Romney victory. The strategy now seems to be to just discourage Republican voters, telling them Romney is going to win so there's no point in even looking for alternatives. It's a desperate kind of strategy which might lead to many Republicans staying home in November...
The lead cheerleader for throwing in the towel and giving it all to Romney seems to be Karl Rove who is likely to be acting as a flak for the establishment, describing Santorum as a desperate, fading candidate.
Rove may be right about the hopelessness of Santorum's campaign. The latest poll shows Santorum losing his own home state of Pennsylvania to Romney, and prospects are not good for him in many of the major remaining states. The inevitability of a Santorum defeat, however, is not the inevitability of a Romney win, no matter how much the insiders climbing on his bandwagon want it to be.
The problem is that despite the hopeful claims Rove is making, the delegate math just doesn't support his theory of inevitability, and the ongoing chorus of big name endorsements doesn't seem to be helping Romney much either, since the same concerns which have alienated much of the party from Romney also make them unresponsive to establishment leaders.
Take a look at the numbers. There are 1089 delegates to be assigned in the remaining primaries. To reach the magic number of 1144 Romney needs 588 more delegates. That's 53.9% of the remaining delegates. That seems achievable. By the accepted estimates Romney has averaged 60% of the delegates so far. In theory, if that trend continues, he will eventually end up with 653 more delegates for a total of 1231, 42 more than he needs.
The problem with this theory is that it assumes that delegate estimates largely based on the initial popular vote in past primaries are accurate. Yet in most of those states there is only a very rough relationship between the popular vote and how delegates are assigned. Delegates are actually chosen through arcane hierarchies of caucuses and conventions which give an advantage to candidates with strong grassroots support, which is Romney's weak point.