A review by the University of Minnesota’s Eric Ostermeier of Republican primary election data since 1972 finds that Romney’s performances in Delaware (56 percent) and Pennsylvania (58 percent) mark the first time a GOP frontrunner has failed to reach the 60 percent mark in a contest conducted after his last major challenger dropped out of the race.
“Over the last 40 years there have been nearly 80 contests in which the presumptive Republican nominee played out the string after their last credible challenger exited the race,” he writes. “The lowest vote tallies recorded by these eventual nominees were 63.8 percent by Ronald Reagan in New Mexico in 1980 (after George H.W. Bush exited), 68.0 percent by George H.W. Bush in Nebraska in 1988 (after Bob Dole exited), 61.3 percent by Dole in Montana in 1996 (after Pat Buchanan exited), 63.3 percent by George W. Bush in Utah in 2000 (after John McCain exited)and 69.7 percent by McCain in 2008 in Idaho (after Mike Huckabee exited).”