Mitt Romney didn't have a good night on Tuesday. He lost three contests, Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota, ceding a full news cycle to Rick Santorum, who swept the trio. But lost momentum doesn't a campaign kill. In fact, the Election Oracle shows that despite occasional slips, Romney’s chances of winning the nomination continue to increase.Take Tuesday, for instance. Even while Romney was poised to lose the three state’s contests, the Election Oracle recorded his odds of becoming the nominee at 62 percent, the highest yet recorded for the former Massachusetts governor. That increase has come at the expense of Newt Gingrich, who has seen his odds fall, slowly, since his debilitating loss in Florida. Still kicking, Santorum challenged Gingrich's narrative of a two-man race and was rewarded with a rising 10 percent chance of landing the nomination, but he's still miles behind frontrunning Romney.
To determine its ratings and odds, the Election Oracle tracks 40,000 news sites, blogs, message boards, Twitter feeds, and other social-media sources to analyze what millions of people are saying about the candidates—and determines whether the Web buzz is positive or negative. That rating is weighted, along with the Real Clear Politics polling average and the latest InTrade market data, to calculate each candidate’s chances of winning the Republican nomination. (See methodology here.)
Romney's campaign knows the power of a favorable news cycle, and the fleeting damage of an unpleasant one. Once the dust settles from Tuesday’s Santorum sweep—all three were nonbinding, it's worth noting, meaning no delegates were awarded—Romney will continue making the “inevitability” argument. And it’s a compelling one too: he continues to have the highest poll numbers, the most money in the bank, and the highest likelihood of winning key states like Arizona, Ohio, and Virginia over the next month.
The Election Oracle is updated with new data every weekday morning. Find it via email at Oracle@newsweekdailybeast.com, or on Twitter at @ElectionOracle.