Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 03 11 March

And the beat goes on.  Candidates continue to rack up delegates and, more than ever, are picking their spots to compete.

You may have heard that Rick Santorum took the Kansas caucuses handily on Saturday night (with 52% of the vote).  He ran virtually unopposed as both Gingrich and Romney chose to pass on Kansas and instead fight their fights in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries tomorrow.

But you may have missed that Romney also won some caucuses over the weekend in far-off places, taking all of Guam’s 9 delegates (with 100% of the vote) as well as all 9 of the Northern Mariana’s (with 88% of the vote).  I don’t have a ready explanation for Mitt’s popularity in these exotic climes, but I can tell you that the Northern Marianas are just north of Guam, and that both are more or less south of Japan and east of the Philippines, if that helps.  Closer to home but also off-shore, Romney won the US Virgin Island’s caucus as well, barely beating Ron Paul (34%-29%) but taking 7 out of their 9 delegates.

So while Santorum’s win in Kansas garnered whatever headlines were to be had, Romney continued to progress in the math war, grinding out 32 delegates overall to essentially match Santorum’s 33 from Kansas.

Tuesday, March 13:  Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii and American Samoa

Alabama and Mississippi are shaping up as crucial battleground states, contested by each of the three leading candidates and with much on the line.  Gingrich is essentially staking his campaign on them, much as he did in Georgia, but with lower odds of success.  If he does not win both, he could exit, especially if Santorum does very well.  Romney continues to look for a win that would establish him as a true national nominee, and he has another shot to do so (and close the deal?) in these states.   Santorum, in turn, wants to drive Gingrich out, continue to win more conservative states and expose Romney’s weakness in the same.  A rundown:

  • Recent polling in Alabama is extremely tight and it’s a three-man race:  Romney, Gingrich and Santorum.  Nate Silver gives a slight nod to Gingrich at this point, but every recent poll is within the margin of error and therefore it is up for grabs.
  • There have been two recent polls in Mississippi and one has Romney ahead of Gingrich and Santorum 35-27-27, and the other has Gingrich ahead over Romney and then Santorum 35-31-20.  Not quite a dead heat, as Santorum is behind in both polls, but perhaps he’ll get a small bump from Kansas?
  • There hasn’t been a poll in Hawaii since October.  Romney did well back then, and given the “Pacific Ocean/Tropical Climate” strength he’s exhibited thus far, I’d say we have to give him the nod in Hawaii as well as American Samoa.

Delegate Count

Everyone counts delegates slightly differently, basically because of variations in how some caucus results and superdelegate pledges are counted.  In any event, Romney is anywhere from 37-40% of the way to the 1,144 delegates he needs to secure the nomination, and he has roughly half of the delegates contested thus far (when you include those not allocated yet), obviously a crucial benchmark for him to maintain and exceed.

NY Times
Real Clear
Romney to 1,144

What happens if Romney does not get to 1,144 by the time the primary/caucus season ends?  This would lead, possibly, to a “brokered” convention, the first since 1952 when Adlai Stevenson emerged from one to secure the Democratic nomination, and the first Republican one since Dewey emerged in 1948.

Specifically, a “brokered” or “open” convention means that if no candidate is selected on the first ballot, when delegates are “pledged” based on primary/caucus outcomes, those delegates are “released” for the second ballot, and old-fashioned horse trading occurs.  For instance, in a simple example, Santorum might release his delegates to Romney if he is put on the ticket as Vice President.

It is, however, not a given that the convention will become brokered if Romney does not have the required 1,144 when the convention begins.  In recent memory, Ford in 1976 and Mondale in 1984 both arrived at their conventions without the required total but emerged victorious on the first ballot.  Essentially, there were enough uncommitted delegates to be wooed at those conventions for each to use various promises to get the support needed to put them over the top.

If Romney is anywhere near close to the 1.144, I doubt the party will turn elsewhere.  But if, say, Santorum puts up a strong run in the south and midwest, crucial to the fortunes of the party in the general election, the GOP may turn elsewhere after the first ballot.  Gingrich and Paul will both have won enough delegates to be highly influential as well.

Games People Play

So if anyone wants to compete in Alabama and Mississippi, let me know tonight!  Give me projections for all four candidates, plus “other” in those two states.  Let’s see if Tom Cox calls for major write-in support for, say, Archie Manning in Mississippi and Joe Namath in Alabama.

Campaign Song

We’re going down South, so there’s really only one choice for a campaign song….”Sweet Home Alabama”….

Mitt’s views keep on turning
Ain’t no issue he can’t spin
Singing songs to please the Southland
He’ll do anything to win
(And I think it’s a sin)

Well, I heard Santorum’s views on women
Well, I know Rick wants to keep ‘em down
Well, I hope Rick Santorum will remember
They’re more than half of the hoedown

Sweet home Alabama
Where the stakes are huge
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, we’re coming down to you

(And Mississippi, too)

Nearby Texas has got a guv’ner

Now he just pulled one that’s a beaut
Now contraceptives do not bother me
Do they really bother Newt?

Tell the truth…

Sweet home Alabama
Where the stakes are huge
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, we’re coming down to you
(And Mississippi, too)

Now Rick might win and slay the Gingrich

And show ol’ Mitt a thing or two
And while Mitt reminds us that he’s…so rich
He can PAC a punch on you

Sweet home Alabama
Where the stakes are huge
Sweet home Alabama
Lord, we’re coming down to you
(And Mississippi, too)

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