Add to Technorati Favorites Presidential Politics for America: 3/11/12

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weekend Primaries Preview

(Note: This weekend, IC will be quite busy attending several events, driving between them, and speaking in the third person. Therefore, he'll have little time to update PPFA. Thus, allow today's post to serve as a preview for the entire weekend. Brief, sporadic posts over the next couple of days are not impossible, but don't expect full analysis until next week. He feels awful about this and promises you a full refund.)

Sooner or later, Rick Santorum will have to make a dent in Mitt Romney's delegate lead. Wait, not later. Just sooner. These moral victories are all well and good, but even with this week's triumph in Alabama and Michigan, he still lost ground, as Romney's narrow losses in the south were more than made up by big wins in Hawaii and the American Samoa.

Looking ahead, Santorum has a decent chance to earn a near split with Romney the rest of the way, which sounds like a good thing, though it's actually not. We can split the remaining schedule up into four groups, and we find that in each of those four groups, Romney and Santorum are about even in strength. 1) For example, the next eight days have four primaries. Two favor Romney (Puerto Rico, Illinois), two favor Santorum (Missouri, Louisiana). 2) Ten days later--April 3--Santorum can win Wisconsin, the biggest contest of the day, while staying close in Maryland and losing lightly weighted Washington DC. 3) Of the next eight states after that, four are in Romney territory (New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware), and four are in Santorum's (Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana). 4) Afterward, of the final eleven states, either candidate can realistically win five or six of them.

But that won't get the job done for Rick Santorum. Not only would he not be able to catch Romney, but if Romney performs as expected in those areas, he will successfully reach 1,144 delegates. That's why, even with these moral victories like those this past week, Santorum must find a way to eat into that Romney delegate lead. Can he do that this weekend?

Probably not. Here are the four contests between now and April 3:

March 17: Missouri (nonbinding Caucus)--52
March 18: Puerto Rico (Proportional Caucus)--23
March 20: Illinois (indescribable)--69 (big one)
March 24: Louisiana (primary)--46 (proportional, southern)

We can expect Santorum to win big in Missouri. Unlike February 7's Missouri Primary, which was not counted in the standings by any outlets, there's a chance tomorrow's Missouri Caucus, even if it's also nonbinding, will be counted. In Puerto Rico, Romney's expected to continue his domination of island US territories, especially after Santorum's slip-up concerning Puerto Rico's language identity. The big number here in Puerto Rico is 50 percent. If Romney breaks it, he wins all 23 delegates. If he falls short, Santorum will pick up proportional delegates. If Santorum fails to pick up those proportional delegates, Romney's sweep of all 23 delegates will make up for any losses he suffers to Santorum in Missouri.

With 75 delegates up for grabs in the two contests, I can't imagine the narrative will change if both candidates finish within a handful of each other, which looks likely. What Santorum needs to do is somehow set up a shock in Illinois. If he can win Missouri big and stay close in Puerto Rico, he might be a player in Illinois. If he pulls off another surprise in Illinois, he'll definitely win Louisiana. That would make five of six contests--including a big Romney state--and he would finally have momentum not only in narrative, but delegates as well.

Of course, a win in Illinois is unlikely. A much more reasonable scenario is that the two candidates split the four contests in half, and that just won't get it done for Rick Santorum. Sooner or later, he's going to have to make a dent in Romney's lead. No, not later. Sooner.

Or else it'll be too late.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Alabama and Mississippi: Spin

What a night! For the third time this primary season, an ostensibly certain Romney march to the nomination turned out to hold a sizeable skirmish. If Romney is Napoleon, last night was Borodino. The question we're now forced to ask: What will be the state of Moscow (Tampa and the Republican National Convention) when Romney finally gets there?

With Santorum's double-victory in the south, and Gingrich's double runner-up, and Romney's double-third, how will each of the candidates spin these results in the coming days? Santorum and Gingrich's deficits actually grew, so the primary standings look rather similar. For further reference, here's the upcoming Republican Primary schedule:

March 17: Missouri (Caucus)--52 (actually counts this time)
March 18: Puerto Rico (Caucus)--23 (Winner Take All)
March 20: Illinois (indescribable)--69 (big one)
March 24: Louisiana (primary)--46 (proportional, southern)
April 3:
Wisconsin (primary)--42 (Winner Take All)
Maryland (primary)--37 (Winner Take All)
Washington DC (primary)--19 (Winner Take All)
=98 on April 3

Then a big break until April 24's New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island primaries, worth 231 delegates combined.

On to the spin, in descending order of finish in the southern states. And heck, how about some movie quotes for each spin?

The Santorum Spin
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!

After Super Tuesday, things looked rough for Santorum. Romney won a majority of the states. He extended his delegate lead. He won primaries and caucuses. He was the only candidate winning states in multiple regions of the US. Rick Santorum was on his last legs as his poll numbers continued to flatten while Romney pulled away.

And then March 13 happened. Moving forward, Santorum will repeatedly point to the current primary map. Mitt Romney has yet to win a state in middle or southern America. (The only possible exception--Virginia--was a state where only Romney and Ron Paul were on the ballot, and still Romney couldn't win a supermajority.) How can the Romney Campaign continue to claim inevitability for the Republican nomination when he does so poorly in Republican states? It's wholly nonsensical. Last night, 70 percent of two conservative states voted against the so-called "inevitable" nominee. That's unprecedented in primary history this late into the primary season, barring the anomalous home states of the favorite's opponents.

Simply, Mitt Romney cannot be considered inevitable, and the Republicans in the blue states will eventually come to this realization. Last night was the tipping point toward that shift in thought. Santorum won't catch Romney, but he'll stop Romney from reaching 1,144 delegates. Moreover, Santorum will have all the momentum after the primary season and can therefore make a serious challenge to Romney at August's Republican National Convention.

The Gingrich Spin
I love the smell of napalm in the morning. It smells like victory.

Gingrich is a fully loaded, erratically aimed, potentially lethal weapon, attempting to destroy anything in its path. He lobs grenades at Mitt Romney's position as the media's candidate. He sprays bullets at and around Rick Santorum in an attempt to be a more legitimate challenge to Romney and the standard-bearer of conservatives. To serve both ends, he's continually dropping napalm across the entire field of the Republican Party, hurting its chances to line up behind either candidate before the convention.

And if his napalm attack gets the primary to the convention? That would be a victory for Newt Gingrich. After the primary season, he's counting on a "whole new conversation"--two months for delegates to debate who the best nominee would be to stand up to President Obama. Gingrich thinks that in such a conversation, he comes out on top.

Short of that, if Gingrich amasses a few hundred delegates and neither Romney nor Santorum reach 1,144 before the convention, Gingrich is in the position of a "kingmaker." How glorious would that be for Gingrich--Romney and Santorum wooing him, offering untold benefits ranging anywhere from national chairman to cabinet position to the vice-presidency. He might enjoy that more than actually being President!

The Romney Spin
Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.

It's not as bad as it looks. I swear. The Real Clear Politics Standings:
1. Romney--495 (+40 from before Tuesday)
2. Santorum--234 (+35)
4. Gingrich--142 (+25)
3. Paul--64 (NC)

Of the 935 delegates projected thus far, Romney has won 52.94 percent. There are still 1,351 delegates left to allocate. Romney needs to win 649 of those to get to 1,144. That's 48 percent of the remaining delegates, below the pace Romney has set thus far. Moreover, almost all remaining "winner-take-all" states favor Romney, meaning he only needs to win about 40 percent of the delegates from other contests. Only a few southern states remain, as do many superdelegates, all of which will run to Romney once he's in position to secure 1,144.

So, let's take a look at the primary calendar, shown earlier in this post. Santorum will win Missouri, but then Romney will take Puerto Rico (winner-take-all) and sizeable Illinois (proportional, but Chicago will act as Romney's savior). Then a close race in Louisiana on March 24 will mark the end of a hectic stretch. The next set of primaries are ten days later, when Wisconsin, Maryland, and DC will go to the polls--all winner-take-all--with Romney winning at least two of them. Then a three-week break before the April 24's New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island primaries, worth 231 delegates combined. They're all proportional. Santorum will win Pennsylvania, but Romney will take larger New York and the other three. This would give Romney six or seven of the most recent eight contests, and eight, nine, or ten of the most recent eleven. Momentum will be back in his corner.

By then, in terms of delegate count, Romney will surpass 800 delegates with 14 states remaining, including Texas (155 delegates), California (172 delegates), New Jersey (50 delegates), and Utah (40 delegates). He has a strong chance to win all of New Jersey (Thank you, Chris Christie) and Utah (thank you, Joseph Smith) and their winner-take-all rules, so we can estimate Romney at 900 without even counting the 200-plus he'll get from Texas and California. Thus, he eclipses 1,100, and I haven't even accounted for North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Nebraska, Oregon, Kentucky, Arkansas, South Dakota, or Montana, which shoul talk on another hundred.

Of course, it's impossible to accurately prognosticate this many states that far out. After Santorum wins in Missouri on Saturday, maybe Romney's numbers collapse across the board and he won't win by the margins estimated. And if Santorum ever "steals" a Romney state--say, Illinois or New York--then the numbers really would have to be crunched again.

That order for Santorum, however, is tall. So what's Romney's plan?

Just keep swimming.

The PPFA Spin
Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

It honestly seems like the Republican Party has no idea what to do. They want unity, but can't decide on a candidate. They want strength, but only if they get their guy. They want Romney more than anyone else, but not as much as they don't want Romney. They don't want their candidates to fight, but negative ads are moving polls. A party that once prided itself on being organized and in control can't decide on their last two candidates, to say nothing of their nominee. All the while, Romney marches on, hoping that math trumps momentum.

Prediction: Ultimately, Napoleon reached Moscow, only to find it flames. Tampa will be in slightly better condition.

But it gets cold in eastern Europe, Romney. You better bundle up.

Updated GOP Primary Standings, March 14

(Note: If you came here via a google search, or even if you didn't, these standings are outdated. Click here for the latest standings and coverage.)

Despite Rick Santorum's triumphant victories last night, he pulled no closer to Mitt Romney in the delegate projections. In fact, he fell further behind. Remember, in addition to the Alabama and Mississippi primaries, Hawaii and the American Samoa held caucuses as well. Since Santorum won in a squeaker over both rivals in states that allocate delegates proportionally, he'll only garner a handful more delegates than them in those contests. Romney, meanwhile, won big in the islands. In one American Samoa romp, Romney made up the deficit accrued by Alabama and Mississippi. Then, with his victory in Hawaii, Romney became yesterday's delegate winner.

Therefore, even before factoring in Romney's likely victory in Hawaii, CNN projects that both Romney and Santorum picked up 31 delegates yesterday. Hawaii will send Romney up even further. Real Clear Politics has factored in American Samoa and most of Hawaii, so, according to their current projections, Romney picked up 40 delegates to Santorum's 35 (and Gingrich's 25). It's worth noting that in Alabama, both CNN and RCP have yet to allocate some delegates, but we can expect they'll be spread rather evenly. The point will hold: Mitt Romney won more delegates yesterday than Rick Santorum did.

Yet, in the momentum game, Rick Santorum--and Newt Gingrich, actually--made enormous gains on the "inevitable" nominee. The chances for the first brokered convention in modern history just ticked up.

Here are the latest
Republican Delegate Projections
CNN Standings
1. Romney--498
2. Santorum-239
3. Gingrich--139
4. Paul--69

Real Clear Politics Standings
1. Romney--496
2. Santorum--236

4. Gingrich--142
3. Paul--67

Official (not counting unbound delegates)
1. Romney--432
2. Santorum--165
3. Gingrich--134
4. Paul--25

I'll update each of those as the websites do. I'll have spin from each campaign a bit later, and then we'll look forward to the upcoming contests. See you then.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Alabama and Mississippi: Live Results

I'll have a running blog here throughout the night, though the posts won't be frequent enough to call it "live." Before we see some results, I'll use this space to look at some exit polls from Mississippi and Alabama. To see my preview of the primaries, including scenarios and possible ramifications, check out my preview.

What a night! Updated standings coming tomorrow, and analysis after that. Anyone have any cigars? How about a dark room to smoke them in?

I'm going to bed. If you're staying up, watch to see if Romney digs out of third place in either state. Not only would that look better, but it could force Gingrich out. Therefore, would Romney even want 2nd place in either state? Probably not.

Good night! Thanks for reading.

CNN just called Mississippi for Rick Santorum. Another Santorum sweep is complete!

And let's not forget about Alabama where, even though Santorum has won it, Romney is still looking up at Gingrich's considerable rear end. With 79% in there, it's Santorum at 35%, Gingrich at 30, and Romney at 28.

The latest from Mississippi. With 96% of precincts reporting:
Santorum 33%
Gingrich 31%
Romney 30%

The call should come any minute.

Whoa, hold the phone. Rick Santorum's the grandson of a coal miner? Why didn't he ever tell us!

Santorum reminds me: he was trailing in 3rd place in all polls in both states, and here he is about to win both. Bad job by the polls.

I wonder if CNN will break the news of Santorum's Mississippi win in the middle of Santorum's speech. That'd be a great timing job by the Santorum campaign. He seems to most struggle when people listen to him talk.

The Mississippi numbers, by the way, with 90% of precints reporting:
Santorum 33%--74,500 votes
Gingrich 32%--71,000
Romney 30%--68,000

We're waiting to hear from Santorum, who I think is in Louisiana, getting the jump on another southern state. We're not expected to hear from Romney, who would have nothing to say, except, of course, for, "Seriously, stop it!"

The reported numbers are finally unstuck. Mississippi is up to 86% of precincts reporting, and it's holding at Santorum 33, Gingrich 32, and Romney 30. Santorum leads Gingrich by 2,500 votes, and Romney by about 5,000.

How long until Romney touts today's wins in Hawaii and American Samoa to claim that he and Santorum actually split the four contests today?? And how long after that until I roll on the floor laughing?

Two major things to watch for the night, besides who wins Mississippi.
Does Gingrich finish in 2nd place in both states? If so, he stays in. If Romney can catch Gingrich in either state or Santorum in Mississippi, Gingrich has some thinking to do.
Does Romney finish in 3rd place in both states? If so, even with the conservative vote being split between Gingrich and Santorum, the Republican Primary is clearly going another month or two, and maybe even more.

Wow. Now all eyes turn to Mississippi, which has been stuck on 79% of precincts reporting for nearly a half hour. The numbers, as of now, are:

CNN makes its first call. Santorum wins Alabama!

I'm still waiting to hear the obvious-yet-not-explicitly-stated statistic: 70% of Republicans in both these states are voting against the clear front runner, Mitt Romney.

How much did CNN pay Hans Zimmer to write their election theme music?

They just hit 80% of the vote in Mississippi, and it's Santorum 33, Gingrich 32, Romney 30, but they are still counting in some urban areas, which will help Romney a bit. This could go right down to the wire!

With 30% in in Alabama, Santorum holds a 4-point lead on Gingrich and 6 on Romney.

Incredible what's developing here. Mississippi is past 70% of the vote, and Santorum is still 3% back of Romney. It might be too soon to call the state for Santorum over Gingrich (at 32%), but I think we can at least say that Romney will finish behind Santorum.

Meanwhile, in Alabama, which just crossed 25% of precincts reporting, Romney trails Santorum by 7 points, 35-28 (Gingrich at 30).

Are we seeing not only a Santorum sweep in the making, but a Romney double-third place?

The CNN team is debating where Gingrich's votes would go if he dropped out. Santorum would certainly garner more--perhaps 50-70%, they estimated--but Romney getting 30-40% of Gingrich's votes would help him get to 1,144. If Santorum wins both, and Gingrich finishes 2nd in both, Gingrich would stay in and Romney's delegate math would stay uncertain.

Fifty percent of Mississippi's votes are in, and Santorum still at 33% with Gingrich and Romney back at 31%.

In Alabama, up to 12% reporting, has Santorum with an even larger lead, including six points up on a third place Romney.

Worthy of note: With Romney temporarily showing in 3rd place in both races, imagine if there was only one of Gingrich/Santorum in the race? We could be talking blowout against the GOP frontrunner.

It does not look like Romney is winning urban and suburban areas by enough to offset Santorum and Gingrich elsewhere. Though the urban totals will take longer to report which will bring up Romney's numbers tonight, right now he's 3 points back of Santorum in Mississippi (33% reported) and 5 points back of Santorum in Alabama (6% reporting). We'll be watching to see by how much Romney can eat into--and potentially eliminate--those deficits.

Alabama has ticked up to 2% of precincts, and now it's Romney running 3rd in both, however slightly.

In Mississippi, with 14% of precincts reporting, we have Santorum out in front with 33% of the vote with Gingrich and Romney a few points back. By the exit polls, Romney is running much better in Mississippi. A Santorum steal there would be a huge boon, and it'd probably be indicative of bigger Romney problems in Alabama.

Finally solid numbers from Mississippi. With 6% reporting, Romney and Santorum are at 32 percent each, with Gingrich 3 points back. With 1% reporting in Mississippi, it's Santorum and Romney basically tied with Gingrich once again in 3rd place.

Jon King just discussed the impact on the delegate race if Santorum wins both states, but he understated the effects of such an event on primaries down the line. Since all three candidates will hover around 30% of the vote, the delegate race won't be affected too much at all. As I said this morning, though: If Santorum wins both states tonight, Gingrich probably drops out. Santorum would then sweep--SWEEP--Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana, and, most importantly, Texas. He'd do well in many other places, as well. THAT is the impact of a Santorum win in both states. I think Romney would, right now, sign for a Santorum/Gingrich split tonight. It's safest.

I don't get why CNN is making a such a big deal about the prisoners. I also don't get why Alabama gets inmates to haul them. Are they rubbing it in? "This is as close as you're ever going to get to a ballot!" Isn't having to share a toilet with an Alabama prisoner enough?

A white tinted vehicle hasn't been followed this closely since OJ's Ford Bronco.

Okay, it's 23 minutes since the polls closed, and we have no raw votes counted? Come on, Alabama and Mississippi! I could care less about your correspondents, CNN.

Whoa! Romney's lead down to 33%. Santorum at 31%, Gingrich at 30. Remember that at 8:01, it was 35-30-29. At 33-31-30, it's all within the "margin of error," like any poll. Still advantage Romney, as he'll need back luck with the "error" and his rivals will need good luck, but you don't see exit polls numbers much closer than this.

Wolf Blitzer says the Mississippi Exit polls need some updating. The banner underneath says things might tighten. Okay, that got me way too excited.

Twitter: @ LisaDCNN : ROMNEY SURPRISE: Exit polls show Romney winning the huge evangelical pop. in Mississippi. (Evangels were 81% of voters)

Gingrich's Chief of Staff just pointed out that "we're not even halfway through the primary process." That could be the justification to stay in, barring two 3rd place finishes. He also refused to answer the question, "Is there a mark you're aiming for tonight to move forward?" No direct answer. Big surprise.

Everyone keeps asking if Gingrich drops out without winning a state tonight. I'd say it's 50/50. If he finishes 2nd in both--not implausible, according to the exits--I say he stays in. Romney and Santorum would each finish in 3rd place once, which looks bad for a frontrunner, and there's still North Carolina, Arkansas, Louisiana to come in the next month.

If Gingrich finishes in 3rd place in one or both contests, however, and he still stays in, we have to start thinking he'd prefer a Romney nomination to a Santorum one. Crazy to think about, I know, but evidence points to it. Maybe his spring rivalry with Santorum means more to him at this point than his winter rivalry with Romney.

Polls closed. CNN reveals exit polls.

Santorum in Alabama!
34% Santorum
29% Romney
28% Gingrich

In Missississippi it looks like Romney.
35% Romney
30% Gingrich
29% Santorum

Like I've been telling you for the last two hours... Gingrich is headed toward a disappointing finish.

More on Newt's demise. From CNN:
Thirty-five percent of voters in Alabama were married women, according to CNN exit polling. Of those voters, 40% supported Romney, 36% supported Santorum, 17% backed Gingrich and 6% backed Paul.

Forty-five percent of voters in Mississippi were married women, according to CNN exit polling. Of those voters, 40% backed Romney, 33% supported Santorum, 23% supported Gingrich and 2% backed Paul.

Two minutes until polls close!

Fifteen minutes until polls close. This morning I predicted a Gingrich win and Romney win. Now, based on these exit poll numbers, I've basically eliminated Gingrich. I see a Romney sweep or a Romney win in Mississippi and a Santorum win in Alabama.

Both states were 50/50 in gender split. So much for Gingrich's advantage. I'm back to being pessimistic about his chances tonight. CNN just revealed that Gingrich finishes a distant 3rd among married women. Remember his edge among men was quite small.

Twitter: @ daveweigel : Local GOP source newly convinced that Santorum will win #ALprimary by cloning Mike Huckabee's 2008 strategy

Oh! I take it back. Gingrich wins "Men" in Alabama with 34% to Santorum's 30 and Romney's 29. Well, that's something. I'm guessing men make up a strong majority of Alabama Republicans.

Am I the only one who doesn't see Gingrich win any exit poll question? Conservative voters, moderate voters. Those who make under 50k, those who make over 100k. Rural, urban. Oppose Tea Party, college graduates, 65 or older. Nothing for Newt. It's rare that he's even close, and he's often a distant 3rd.

More on those numbers to show you what I mean about Gingrich's disappointing day:
Alabama urban voters:
37% Romney
36% Santorum
20% Gingrich

Alabama rural voters:
32% Santorum
31% Gingrich
30% Romney

In other words, Gingrich is behind Santorum in both urban and rural voters, and even if rural areas are neck-and-neck, Gingrich is way back of both rivals in urban areas. We could be witnessing the end of the Gingrich Campaign.

I just don't know about Newt tonight. I thought he'd win one of these, but I see awful polling from urban areas while Santorum is winning very conservative voters over him. Those numbers do not make a winner. Meanwhile, I just keep staring at these Romney numbers. Electability matters to these voters, and Romney dominates that category. We could very well have a Romney two-state sweep tonight, which would end the competitive part of the 2012 Republican primary.

Below, a graphic from the Washington Post that merges results from Mississippi and Alabama eit polls. This is a great sign for Mitt Romney. We can scratch out the possibility of him finishing with two thirds. We can consider, very realistically, that he will win both states.

From CBS, their numbers might de-stress the Romney Campaign. "In Alabama, thirty-nine percent of voters said defeating Mr. Obama was the most important candidate quality; in Mississippi, 42 percent said the same thing. . . . The economy was the top issue for Republican voters in both states, with 57 percent of voters in Alabama and 54 percent of voters in Mississippi prioritizing it." Those are outstanding numbers for Romney. Earlier, CNN said about half of Alabama and Mississippi voters saw Romney as the candidate best equipped to defeat President Obama in November.

More CNN numbers show a majority of both Alabama and Mississippi voters think Romney is "not conservative enough." Of those voters, Gingrich and Santorum each won 40% of the vote, with Romney only 8%. Incredible. It's just one stat, of course, but this might be the beginning of more stats that say: Romney might finish in 3rd place at least once. Maybe twice.
Here's some relevant numbers from CNN. Going into these two primaries, I feel Santorum is the least likely to have a good day. But with these numbers, perhaps he might surprise us once again.
Mississippian voters today who called themselves Evangelicals/Born-Again:
81% Yes
19% No

Same for Alabama:
73% Yes
27% No

Those are not favorable Romney numbers, though perhaps we can expect that while Santorum and Gingrich will split the majority of those "Yes"s (perhaps a 40-40-20 split with Romney grabbing a fifth of them), Romney might sweep the "No"s.

Mississippi: Do the religious of the candidates matter?
45% Great deal
32% Somewhat
12% Not much
9% Not at all

Alabama: Do the religious beliefs of the candidates matter?
44% Great deal
30% Somewhat
15% Not much
10% Not at all

Nearly half of these voters, then, are citing religion as a very important factor, and 3/4 of voters say it's at least somewhat of a factor. Of course, few of those southern voters are Mormon. More trouble for Romney? Perhaps. Yet, once again, we see Gingrich and Santorum splitting their followers. Romney could very well sweep the approximately 25% who say religion does not matter at all or only barely matter, while Gingrich and Santorum split a chunk of the rest with Romney picking up a few votes there himself.

Alabama: With what party do you identify?
66% Republican
28% Independent
6% Democrat

Of Republicans in Alabama, for what candidate did they vote?
34% Santorum
31% Gingrich
31% Romney

Two thirds of Alabama voters identified as Republican, and Santorum won the category. The 6% who called themselves Democrats are probably "mischief voters," hoping to extend the primary, and likely are supporting Santorum as well. That's a good start for Santorum. Yet, again, we see Romney getting saved by moderates. With the 28% of the electorate that identifies as Independent, it's unlikely Santorum's extreme conservatism plays well.

Keep checking in!

February 13 Primaries: What's at Stake?

Today are the Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii, and American Samoa primary contests. The American Samoa has already voted, and Romney won.

That leaves the three US states. There is little polling information out of Hawaii (20 delegates), with the last one completed back in October, which is a lifetime (or two) ago for these candidates. Ron Paul is thought to have a shot, and Rick Santorum sacrificed a daughter, but I expect Romney to continue his dominance of the Pacific territories.

Regardless, the two states everyone is watching today are Alabama (50 delegates) and Mississippi (40). Romney has an infamous disconnect with the southern and midwestern parts of the country, which just happen to hold the conservative base of the party. Indeed, the only southern or midwestern state Romney has won is Virginia, and that was likely because Gingrich and Santorum never saw the ballot. Aside from that, Romney has lost Iowa, South Carolina, Minnesota, Missouri, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Dakota. With a losing list like that, one can understand why Romney continues to be dogged by negative press and conservative critics.

How might he stop those voices? By winning one or both of today's Alabama and Mississippi primaries. Of course, as with any primary these days, these contests are even more important to his rivals, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

Gingrich needs to show he belongs in this race. With ubiquitous calls for him to drop out, if he can go 4-0 across the Deep South (by pairing these two with his resounding wins in South Carolina and Georgia), he will quiet those calls. It's hard to argue that he's irrelevant if he's undefeated with the southern base of the party and states like Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, and massive Texas with its 155 delegates remain. Gingrich has a path to 400 delegates, and since his goal is to get to a convention, the possibility of walking that path and limiting Romney to under 1,144 is enough to keep him in the race. Therefore, only one win today will keep him in the race. But if he loses both? You might see a Gingrich exit before Saturday's Missouri Caucus, so as not to hurt Santorum.

Santorum, meanwhile, desperately needs to dig into Romney's large delegate lead before the rest of the party sees a Romney nomination as inevitable. That means defeating him in the south, where Romney is most vulnerable. Gingrich's presence, of course, is a nuisance. In the latest Alabama and Mississippi polls, Gingrich's southern base is clearly not deserting him. In the last PPP poll, the three candidates are running in a statistical three-way tie in Alabama, while Mississippi is almost as tight, with Gingrich polling at 33 percent to Romney's 31 and Santorum's 27. (Rasmussen polls support the razor tight races.) Thus, despite Romney polling rather weakly for a frontrunner, the Gingrich/Santorum split of conservative allegiances is keeping Romney a contender in both states.

Clearly, the results from Mississippi and Alabama have several combinations. All we know is that Ron Paul will finish in fourth. Any of the three candidates can win, and any of the three can finish in third. With all these possibilities, I conjured eight scenarios and their ramifications:

Scenario 1a: Gingrich wins both, Santorum is the runner up in both. The story: Romney's chances for 1,144 take a minor but very real hit, and we look to the calendar to see if Romney has a path to 1,144 without strong results in the remaining south. Gingrich stays in and sees a bump in polls across the board. He positions himself for wins in a handful of future southern states.

Scenario 1b: Gingrich wins both, Romney is the runner up in both. The Romney team celebrates as all candidates march on with a greatly weakened Santorum.

Scenario 1c: Gingrich wins both, Romney and Santorum split the runners up. The Romney team celebrates as all candidates march on with a weakened Santorum.

Scenario 2a: Gingrich wins one, Santorum wins the other. Gingrich has justification for staying in. Santorum claims to be winner between the two "contenders," especially if he finishes second in the other primary. If Gingrich and Santorum lock Romney out from a top 2 in both states, this primary is going into May.

Scenario 2b: Gingrich wins one, Romney the other. Romney shows he can compete in a southern state. Santorum is wounded, with two third places finishes being particularly painful.

Scenario 3: Santorum and Romney split victories. Gingrich drops out if he has two third places. A split goes to Romney in the spin room, as he finally won in the south.

Scenario 4: Romney sweeps. The primary's finished. Everyone stays in, though.

Scenario 5: Santorum sweeps. Gingrich drops out, regardless where he finishes. He lends his full-throated support to Santorum, who will go on to win Missouri in a blowout. The reeling Romney Campaign empties out the treasury to squash Santorum's third surge, but it might not be enough this time. We could be on our way to a brokered convention. (Though it's actually 1a that gives the best chance for a brokered convention.)

My prediction: 2b.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Romney Wins American Samoa

Mitt Romney is slated to earn all nine delegates from the US territory of American Samoa. It's one of the four March 13 primaries (with Alabama, Mississippi, and Hawaii). Bolstered by a 25 percent Mormon population, American Samoa will add to Romney's larger, successful "US territories" string of victories, now standing alongside Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands.

I'll see you tomorrow for a preview of the other three 3/13 primaries.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Can Romney Be Caught?

Get ready for delegate math to end all delegate math. (At least until after the next set of primaries.)

Thursday's premise: Romney says he can't be caught in delegates.
Thursday's disassembling of premise: Catching Romney in delegates is not the goal of the other candidates.
Thursday's revelation: Rather, the goal of the other candidates is just to keep Romney under 1,144 delegates by the end of the primaries.
Thursday's question: Can they do that?
Friday's key piece of information #1: The remaining Republican Primary schedule.
Friday's key piece of information #2: Romney's delegate math:

The latest Real Clear Politics Standings (including Saturday's contests):
1. Romney--455 (54.7% of delegates)
2. Santorum--199
3. Gingrich--117
4. Paul--61

Finally, based on those two pieces of information, keep this delegate math in mind as we move forward:
Total remaining pledged delegates: 1,408
Amount of remaining delegates needed for Romney to secure the nomination: 1,144 - 455 = 689
Percentage of remaining delegates Romney needs to secure the nomination by the end of the primary season (and without superdelegates making up the difference): 698/1,408=48.9

Conclusion: Romney must win 48.9 percent of remaining delegates to secure the nomination before the convention without de-democratizing the process by using superdelegates to push him over.

So, can Romney be caught? Might we have a brokered convention?

Let's assume a best case scenario for his closest competitor, Rick Santorum. Let's say that Romney never connects with the south and Midwest. As such, let's award Santorum the following remaining primaries (see schedule for their dates and weights): Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, Pennsylvania (Santorum's home state), North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Nebraska, Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, and South Dakota. Furthermore, in those states, let's give Santorum victories of between one-half and two-thirds of the delegates (decent proportional estimates given everything we've seen from the 2012 Republican Primary). In each case, I've rounded up to the high end of realistic. Let's also give him Wisconsin and all of its 42 delegates (winner-take-all by district and statewide vote). Combined, therefore, these states give Santorum 485 delegates.

Now, for the remaining proportional contests--Romney victories--let's give Santorum one-fourth to one-fifth of those delegates, again rounding up for Santorum in most cases. Those runners up would come in the following contests: Hawaii, American Samoa, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Oregon, Montana, and New Mexico (these last two questionable Romney victories seem similar to Romney-dominated Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah, but I'll round up even more for Santorum there). That gives Santorum 80 more, bringing him to 565. Add that to his previous RCP total of 199 and he stands at about 765. Not bad for a four-man race to 1,144, right? No, not bad at all.

But is it enough?

It's enough only if Romney fails to each 1,144. Therefore, we need a Romney breakdown. Let's give Romney one-fourth to one-fifth of the delegates from those Santorum victories, once again tailoring this for the optimistic end of realism for Santorum. Runners up in those contests would award about 155 delegates to Romney.

Then let's give Romney one-half to two-thirds of the delegates from the remaining contests that Santorum loses to him. That comes to about 210 for Romney. Combined, therefore, the remaining proportional contests give Romney 365 more delegates. Add that to his current RCP total of 446, and he's at about 820, still over 300 delegates short of the nomination. Looks good for the field, right?

Not so fast. If you hadn't noticed, I left out seven contests from those two lists. That's because we have seven more contests that don't award proportionally and instead use some form of a winner-take-all system. These contests are Puerto Rico, Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, New Jersey, California, and Utah, all of which we can expect Romney to win easily.

Now, Puerto Rico, DC, Delaware, and Utah award their winner-take-all by the statewide popular vote. That's 99 more for Romney, or about 920 total. That leaves Maryland, New Jersey, and, of course, the Big Kahuna, California and its 172 delegates. Each of three awards most of its delegates through winner-take-all per congressional district, and the rest through the statewide vote. There's a strong chance Romney takes all of Chris Christie's districts across the state of New Jersey, so that's 50 more for Romney, giving him about 970. Let's also say that Romney does well enough in Maryland to reach 1,000 even before we factor in California.

California's interesting and, frankly, impossible to predict at this point. Of its 172 delegates, 3 are party leaders, 10 are awarded to the candidate who wins the state, and the other 159 are awarded by the 53 congressional districts--a winner-take-all 3 for each of them. Romney's going to win the state by a mile, so you can basically give him 100 as a baseline and something north of 150 if he has a good day. Thus, we arrive at a final, super conservative Romney projection of between 1,120 and 1,160 delegates.

Of course, I fully acknowledge the silliness of projecting out the campaign through the end of the primaries over three months from now. Moreover, remember, I was optimistic at every step of the road for Santorum, meaning I was necessarily pessimistic for Romney. Furthermore, the more Romney wins and the closer he gets to 1,144, the more likely he wins a higher percentage of delegates than he's thus far been winning, as the party will flock to the winner who can best unify the party as early as possible. Finally, he'll surely pick up superdelegates along the way, further boosting his quest for 1,144 by the closing Utah Primary.

That being said, this model has shown that there is a not impossible scenario--however unlikely--under which Romney is still fighting for every last delegate in June.

So, will Romney be caught? No way. But can we have a brokered convention? I'd stock up on cigars, just in case.

Republican Delegates, 3/11

(Note: If you came here via a google search, or even if you didn't, these standings are outdated. Click here for the latest standings and coverage.)

With Mitt Romney adding the US Virgin Islands to his other US territory wins of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Romney kept pace with Rick Santorum's delegate count from his Kansas win. On the day, Romney cleared 32 delegates (7 from Kansas, 9 each from Guam and the NMI, and 7 from the USVI) while Santorum's big win in Kansas earned him 33 of Kansas's 40. Santorum earned zero from the territories. Ron Paul earned one from the US Virgin Islands.) Therefore, like I said here yesterday, despite the Kansas win reinforcing Santorum's claim that Romney is out of touch with mainstream Republicans, Romney maintains his stranglehold on the GOP Primary's delegate count.

Speaking of the delegate allocations, here's the latest. Don't forget to check in on Sunday to see my take on the chances of Romney's opponents to force a convention.

Republican Delegate Counts
CNN Standings
1. Romney--458
2. Santorum--203
3. Gingrich--118

4. Paul--66

Real Clear Politics Standings
1. Romney--455
2. Santorum--199
4. Gingrich--117

3. Paul--64

Official (not counting unbound delegates)
1. Romney--393
2. Santorum--133
3. Gingrich--110
4. Paul--24
cash advance

Cash Advance Loans