But the 2012 primary calendar is heavily back-loaded, with major states such as California and New York going much later in the process than in 2008 and far fewer delegates up for grabs through Super Tuesday. In fact, the altered calendar will create the most spread-out contest since the 1970s. And more states than in the past will award delegates based on each candidates' portion of the vote, rather than all of a state's delegates going to the winner of the popular vote. All together, it will be mathematically impossible for Romney -- or anyone -- to eliminate opponents early on.
The February states are Maine, Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Arizona and Michigan. In 2008, Romney won all but Arizona, which was John McCain's home state.
Yet, mathematically, it will be hard for Romney to argue after January and February that he is the putative nominee.
There are approximately 2,427 delegates up for grabs in the 2012 Republican primary, but a number of states who broke Republican National Committee rules and moved their primaries forward will likely see their delegate totals halved. So the actual number of total delegates will probably be 2,284, meaning a candidate will have to win 1,143 to clinch the nomination.
Through January and February, according to the website TheGreenPapers.com, only 334 delegates will be awarded. Super Tuesday will add only 599 more -- a total of just 41 percent of all delegates