Rick Santorum won the Louisiana Republican primary Saturday evening by a huge margin, but failed to change the race. Mitt Romney remains the front-runner, much dented but not broken.
The loss in Louisiana also showed Romney's continuing troubles in conservative southern states that form
the core of the Republican party. He struggles to look conservative enough.
Santorum has grabbed that corner. "I'm not running as a conservative candidate for President. I am the conservative candidate for president," he said in a victory speech.
But Romney is so far ahead in delegate count that neither Santorum nor the remaining two, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, have a realistic chance of catching up.
To get the Republican party nomination, they need 1,144 delegates. Romney leads with 563, followed by Santorum with 272, Newt Gingrich with 135 and Ron Paul with 50.
Party leaders have been urging Santorum and Gingrich to drop out and let Romney claim the ticket, rather than prolong a bitterly contested battle that's sapping the party.
They have both refused. Santorum, in fact, is demanding that the other two drop out - only Gingrich dropping out will also work - and let him run one-on-one with Romney.
In the southern states of the Bible Belt, Gingrich's votes are likely to coalesce around Santorum.