Like the team that engineered President Obama’s victory in 2008, Mr. Romney’s lawyers and strategists say they have devised an approach to the second half of the primary campaign intended to ensure that he methodically amasses the 1,144 delegates necessary to win the nomination, staying ahead of his rivals in that count even if they win the popular vote in some states.
Rich Beeson, Mr. Romney’s political director, said of Mr. Santorum: “He has no states on Super Tuesday where he is going to do anything to cut the delegate lead. He is going to fall further and further behind. It becomes a mathematical battle as much as it is a political one, and the math just doesn’t add up for Santorum.”
The Romney effort over the next several months is an echo of the campaign that Mr. Obama waged against Hillary Rodham Clinton four years ago. Having lost the delegate lead in February, Mrs. Clinton struggled in vain to recapture it. In Texas, she defeated Mr. Obama by 51 percent to 47 percent but earned only four more delegates than he did.
“The task for the Clinton campaign yesterday was clear,” David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, wrote in a memorandum titled “The Math” a day after the Texas vote in 2008. “In order to have a plausible path to the nomination, they needed to score huge delegate victories and cut into our lead. They failed.”
Mr. Beeson was the political director for the Republican National Committee at the time and watched the Democratic fight with interest. The current Republican process has its differences, but the kinds of spreadsheets and maps that Mr. Beeson and his colleagues use are similar.
“We’ve read those same memos,” Mr. Beeson said of Mr. Plouffe’s many delegate-counting missives.