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Morning Roundup: All About Math

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In general, reporters hate math. But, there are times when we just can’t escape doing it.

We find ourselves reaching for a calculator four times a year when candidates and many political action committees file fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission. And it comes into play every presidential year when we begin to assess the delegate math needed to get a presidential nomination and then the electoral college math for winning in November.

On Tuesday, year-end fundraising reports were due at the FEC and Mitt Romney crushed Newt Gringrich in the Florida presidential primary. In an oddly winding concession speech (where he never congratulated Romney) the ex-Speaker vowed to continue on in what he dubbed a two-man race between a “conservative leader” and a “Massachusetts moderate.”

“We are going to contest every place and we are going to win and we will be in Tampa as the nominee in August,” Gingrich told supporters at his election night headquarters. But there was much discussion on Twitter about the “46 States to Go” sign on Gingrich’s podium. Considering Gingrich won’t be on the ballot in at least two states (Missouri and Virginia), 44 might have been a more accurate figure. Even reporters, or as Gingrich says the “elite media,” can do that math.

Here are some other numbers worth highlighting this morning:

58: The percentage of Florida voters who pulled the lever for Romney and said the ability to defeat President Barack Obama was the most important candidate quality, according to CNN exit polling. Forty-six percent of voters who said “strong moral character” was the most important trait voted for Romney, who will begin receiving Secret Service protection this week — further adding to the air of inevitability that he will be the nominee.

39: That’s the age of “superstar” Sen. Marco Rubio (R), who is already on most vice presidential short lists and is likely to see his stock rise after Tuesday. “It was the unaligned Rubio who occupied more political space in the final, tumultuous days of the state’s presidential primary campaign, as candidates fought over who was more closely — and positively — associated with him,” David M. Drucker writes in his assessment of the Florida freshman.

The points in the margin of victory for state Sen. Suzanne Bonamici (D) in Tuesday’s special election in Oregon’s 1st district. She may be sworn in as soon as Thursday. Democrats and their aligned outside groups spent close to $2 million to hold the seat formerly held by ex-Rep. David Wu. Party operatives will tell you they spend whatever necessary to hold territory in special elections. (Anyone remember the roughly $5 million the National Republican Congressional Committee spent in 2005 to keep disgraced ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham’s California district?) But with the special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) now set for this spring — and expected to be highly competitive — one has to wonder if there’s any regret that the party spent that much cash on a reliably Democratic seat.

300: The number of super PACs on file with the Federal Election Commission as of Tuesday. But as Janie Lorber reports, traditional political action committees — run by trade associations, corporations and interest groups — are still thriving in the post-Citizens United world. For the most part, the two types of PACs don’t attract the same kind of donors. “Companies and the associations representing them want their fingerprints squarely on contributions to lawmakers they support,” she writes. “Furthermore, the voluntary contribution process also helps build a sense of industry unity, lobbyists and PAC directors told Roll Call.”

1.426: That’s how many million more Rep. Tom Latham (R) had in the bank than Rep. Leonard Boswell (D) in Iowa’s 3rd district, which is supposed to be a top race this cycle. Democrats say they are confident Boswell will have the money he needs at the end of the day, but the widening gap has to be concerning. Check out who won the fundraising battle in other Member-vs.-Member races here.