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Politics & Government

Pennsylvania Primary “Counts” in 2012

The April 24th Pennsylvania primary is less than one month away and, unlike most years, it could actually play an important role in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Front-runner Mitt Romney is still far from gathering the number of delegates needed to avoid a brokered convention, and both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are hoping to make sure he never gets to the magic number of 1,144 delegates. Despite the high interest in the race in Pennsylvania, it is still unclear if it will be much of a contest.

Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College, said the only one who can answer that question is the guy leading with money and delegates. "How much does Mitt Romney want to make it a competitive state?" said Borick.

"There's very little downside other than the loss of resources for Romney," said Borick. "If he spends money here, and tries to be competitive, and loses, he can always say, 'Well, it's Santorum's home state.'"

The stakes might be a bit higher for Santorum. He would have a harder time explaining away a loss.

"If Rick Santorum can't win a Republican primary for president in his own state, he has zero credibility in arguing that he could win this state in a general election, and states like it," said Borick.

A barrage of TV ads from Romney's campaign, Borick believes, will be the best indicator of whether the former Massachusetts governor intends to defeat Santorum in Pennsylvania.

Even if Romney sweeps "The Big East Primaries" (Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania) April 24th, he will still not be able to seal the nomination. That cannot happen until some time in late May or June.