The Jedi Polling Master Nate Silver @ Fivethirtyeight nails it on the GOP race which IS REALLY over but just playing out….
Mitt Romney’s big victories in Illinois and Puerto Rico this week have expanded his lead over Rick Santorum by roughly 60 delegates, putting him ahead by 300 delegates over all.
Increasingly, the nomination race is entering an endgame stage in which it is less a two-man contest between Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum than one that pits Mr. Romney against himself. How certain is Mr. Romney to get the 1,144 delegates required to clinch the Republican nomination? And if he gets them, how soon will he do it?
Mr. Romney, who has 563 delegates, according to an Associated Press count, is almost halfway to the clinching threshold. But the voting calendar is now entering a slower phase that will persist for the next five weeks, until five Northeastern states vote on April 24, with 209 delegates at stake.
The soonest that Mr. Romney could officially clinch the nomination is May 22, when Arkansas and Kentucky vote. That situation would require Mr. Romney to win at least 95 percent of the delegates in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Indiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Oregon and the District of Columbia, and to receive endorsements by virtually all of the Republican Party’s 77 undecided superdelegates by that time.
Some of those states, of course, are not so strong for Mr. Romney. And even if he won 70 percent of the delegates in those states, as well as in Texas, which votes on May 29, he would still need to wait until June 5 — when California and New Jersey vote — to clinch the nomination.
This sort of calculation, however, can sometimes be taken too literally. Barack Obama has yet to clinch the Democratic nomination officially, for instance, but there is no real doubt about the outcome.