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By the time the Texas primary rolls around on May 29, Mr. Romney will face another hazard.

Texas is a Southern state with a large proportion of evangelicals and a popular Republican governor, Rick Perry, who is expected to try his best to deliver his state to Mr. Gingrich.

The Romney team is resigned to Texas’ not being his kind of state.

But if Mr. Gingrich is still competing and denying Mr. Santorum the unified “conservative” wing he needs to wrest the nomination from Mr. Romney, the former Georgia congressman is likely to find the Romney team silently rooting for him in Texas.

A Gingrich win is a Santorum loss and, therefore, in the convoluted logic of this potentially epic battle, a win for Mr. Romney.

The high-population-density focus will be of more help to a Romney candidacy in the fall than a rural Republican focus — and Romney strategists are banking on that becoming clear to Republican primary voters as the contest progresses.