As Ed already reported, the race in Ohio is looking like it will come down to the wire between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The most recent momentum seems to be on Romney’s side, but Santorum could still pull it out at the 11th hour. But even if Rick Santorum manages to win in the Buckeye state, he may not win win. As it turns out, he could take the popular vote and still lose as many as 25% of the state’s delegates. The reason is that once again a campaign may have failed to field the required ground game needed to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.

Even if Rick Santorum wins Ohio on Super Tuesday, he won’t be able to claim all of its delegates. In fact, he is at risk of forfeiting more than one-quarter of them.

In three of the state’s 16 congressional districts, including two that are near Ohio’s border with Pennsylvania, Santorum will lose any delegates he might have won because his campaign failed to meet the state’s eligibility requirements months ago.

Those three districts alone take 9 delegates out of a total of 66 off the table for Santorum.

But it gets worse: Nine more Ohio delegates may also be in jeopardy.

Sources say that in six other congressional districts — the third, fourth, eighth, tenth, twelfth and sixteenth — Santorum submitted fewer names than required to be eligible for all three delegates up-for-grabs in each district.

That means even if he wins in those places, he might not be able to receive the full contingent of delegates.

Santorum, much like Newt, was struggling in the early going with a poorly funded and largely overlooked campaign. The national map for this election is vast and complex, with different rules applying in nearly every state in terms of election laws and requirements. We already saw how Virginia slipped away from everyone except Mitt and Ron Paul for precisely the same reason.

This is one area where experience really counts, and I’m not talking about experience in leadership, legislation or governing. The very act of running a political campaign requires an entirely separate set of skills and talent. Romney has been through this process once from beginning to end and his well funded team knew all the rules. The same can be said for Ron Paul. Santorum and Gingrich lacked that experience and depth of talent on the bench and seem to be paying the price for that lack of preparation over and over again.

More on this story from Outside the Beltway.