With 22 states very likely to vote for the Republican candidate and 19 states plus Washington DC very likely to vote for President Obama, there are 9 states that will be at the center of each campaign once the Republican nominee is selected.
For a Republican victory, it’s easy to see that Santorum would have an easier road to the White House than Romney.
In Colorado, Iowa, and Ohio, Santorum fairs better. In Virginia and Florida, Romney is the stronger candidate. However, Florida may be a moot point as it will likely stick with Obama as it did in 2008 unless Marco Rubio is the GOP Vice Presidential nominee. In that scenario, Republicans would have a great shot at picking up the state.
This leaves Pennsylvania, which voted for Obama behind strong campaigning by Scranton-born Joe Biden. Santorum can deliver Pennsylvania. Romney cannot.
The “established” delegate count puts the Republicans at 180 and Obama at 232. Add Santorum’s Pennsylvania delegates and Marco Rubio’s Florida delegates and it brings his total to 229. If he can deliver Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and Colorado, places where his chances are stronger than Romney’s, he would squeak out a victory even if Obama retains New Mexico, Virginia, and North Carolina.
With Romney losing in Pennsylvania, he would have to win South Carolina (where he didn’t even win the primary) plus either Virginia or New Mexico to win. This is assuming he is also able to deliver Ohio, Colorado, and Iowa, places where Santorum is more popular.
If the Republican party’s goal is to defeat Barack Obama, there is very little room for doubt that mathematically speaking, Santorum is the much better bet.