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Friday, January 13, 2012

Republican Primary Race Standings

(Note: if you've arrived here via a google search, the standings are probably out of date. Click here for the latest coverage.)

Don't read this post without reading yesterday's. It explained how delegates are allocated to each US state and territory for the Republican National Convention. I do, however, need to amend something I said.

Yesterday, I erroneously said that it's only the relatively few "district delegates" that are chosen by the voters. My exact quote: Voting caucuses and primaries which we follow on TV only make up the district delegates, not the total delegates, of a state. At times—particularly in the lowest population states—the delegates awarded through voting are fewer than the other delegates the state awards. I went on to discuss the additional presence of At Large delegates, Party Leaders, and a variety of Bonus Delegates, each of which I thought were not beholden at all to the voters. I then went on to use Iowa and New Hampshire as examplars of the people having little say in the process in the smaller states, as their few district delegates are outweighed by all the other ones.

Here's what I've learned since then. (And again, this won't make much sense if you didn't read yesterday's blog, which I still recommend because I was right at least three out of every five sentences.) The caucuses and primaries determine much more than just the district delegates. They determine where all those At Large and Bonus Delegates go, as well.

Maybe.

I wish I was kidding.

Counting the delegates of this fledgling primary is not as easy as you'd think. Take a look at Wikipedia's Iowa results, which tracked what AP, CNN, and MSNBC projected to each of the candidates after January 3's Iowa Caucuses.
  • AP projects that Mitt Romney's eight-vote victory earned him 13 delegates, while CNN gives him only 7 and MSNBC gives him 11.
  • AP gave Santorum 12 for his near second, but CNN and MSNBC each projected the same total they projected for Romney, 7 and 11, respectively.
  • AP doesn't give Ron Paul any delegates for his close third place showing in Iowa, but CNN gave him 7 and MSNBC projected him 3.
The only consistency was that 25 of Iowa's 28 delegates were projected from all three outlets, with three unpledged delegates remaining. However, the fact that these three enormous sects of the media don't agree on delegate projections shows you that the process is not as straight-forward as one would hope. It gets more frustrating if one looks at an explanation from one of them. Here's an excerpt from the Associated Press article that projected those allocations. The underlining is mine.

Iowa's delegates to the national convention are not bound by the results of the caucuses. But an Associated Press analysis showed Romney would win 13 and Santorum would win 12, if there were no changes in their support as the campaign wears on.

Twenty-five delegates were at stake in the caucuses. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas came in third in the voting but was shut out of delegates because he didn't win any of Iowa's four congressional districts.

Thus, according to the AP's analysis, the voting is not "binding" at all. Delegates can change their minds later, ahead of August's Republican National Convention. In other words, suppose Newt Gingrich pulls off a miracle comeback. All of Iowa's delegates could vote for him this summer.

Paul's bagel of a score from the AP is also curious. Remember: both CNN and MSNBC gave Ron Paul delegates! So was Paul "shut out of delegates" or wasn't he? How do these three massive outlets not agree on such a straight-forward circumstance of someone finishing in a close third despite not winning any single district?

I don't have answers. Before too long, though, I hope to unearth evidence from the deepest bowels of the RNC. Until then, here are the tentative Republican Primary Standings, with ranges of potential scores included.

1. Mitt Romney: 14-20 (7-13 from range explained above; 7 from New Hampshire), +13*
2. Rick Santorum: 8-13 (range explained above), +1*
3. Ron Paul: 3-10 (0-7 from range explained above; 3 from New Hampshire)
4. Jon Huntsman: 2 (New Hampshire Primary)
5. Rick Perry: 0-2 (from range explained above), +3*
6. Newt Gingrich: 0-2 (from range explained above)

*And there's yet one more wrinkle. Remember the maddening superdelegates from four years ago? They're baaack. And Rick Perry, somehow, already has three of them. Romney has 13 and Santorum has 1. Thus, perhaps more accurate standings are:

1. Mitt Romney: 17-33 (including his 13 superdelegates)
2. Rick Santorum: 9-14 (including his 1 superdelegate)
3. Ron Paul: 3-10
4. Rick Perry: 3-5 (including his 3 superdelegates)
5. Jon Huntsman: 2
6. Newt Gingrich: 0-2
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Editor's note: Today marks my debut on the online magazine "Construction." I'll have a presidential politics column there about once a week, rotating with writer Stephen Kurczy. I hope you find your way over there.

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