That’s really the upshot of the decision in Virginia going against the four guys who botched their ballot petitions.
Perry and Gingrich failed to qualify for the ballot late last month after filing their signatures with the Virginia State Board of Elections, when the state GOP determined that neither candidate had enough valid signatures to meet the requirements. Only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul qualified to appear on the ballot with the required number of signatures: Huntsman and Santorum did not file at all.
So what will happen? On March 6, Virginia will hold a presidential primary to assign 46 of 49 delegates. Each of the state’s eleven congressional districts will assign three delegates to wheoever wins there. Whoever wins a majority statewide will take the remaining 13 delegates. In a multi-candidate primary, Romney might have had trouble winning 50 percent statewide, and the at-large districts would have been divvied up. Under this scenario it’s easy to see him winning as few as 40 and as many as 46 delegates, allowing for Ron Paul to win, perhaps, the liberal districts centered on the D.C. suburbs and Richmond.
In some other kind of system, if delegates were assigned proportionately, Romney might have to fight Ron Paul for votes. But today’s decision effectively assigns Romney around 3.5 percent of the delegates he needs to become the nominee.