Jon Huntsman officially drops out of the Republican presidential race today. It’s a little surprising given Huntsman’s expression of satisfaction at the results of the New Hampshire primary. Obviously team Huntsman must have looked ahead and could not discern a clear path for victory. That, plus they must have checked their bank account. So while a little surprising, it’s not entirely unexpected. Many thought that perhaps Huntsman was treating 2012 as a dry run for 2016. Huntsman is expected to endorse Mitt Romney.
So what does that mean for the remaining candidates? Let’s look at the math. I’ve taken the liberty of creating a spreadsheet of the remaining races. Included are the number of delegates, what type of race, and how the delegates are alloted.
One of the critical elements for these races is delegate allocation. Some states are winner-take-all where no one is rewarded for second place. Both the upcoming South Carolina and Florida contests are such races. This looks to be a bonus for Mitt Romney; particularly in Florida as he is polling at almost twice the numbers as the next candidate, Newt Gingrich. But not all contests are winner-take-all. Many of the early contests are proportionally allocated and some of these have a minimum/maximun threshold. Most of the winner-take-all contests are towards the end of the primary season.
The second factor is whether or not the contests are open or closed. This is where Ron Paul is banking his chances on winning because most of the open races (where Democrats and independents can vote in the Republican races) are front loaded with at least six of these occurring on Super Tuesday (technically five; Massachusetts is a semi-closed race open to independents but not Democrats). Ron Paul is counting on Democrats to get into the fray in these contests. If he can get to the minimums he will be able to rack up delegates and likely make Gingrich and Santorum irrelevant.
Unfortunately for Governor Rick Perry, the Texas primary that was originally set for Super Tuesday has been pushed back into April while the courts look at allegations of unfair redistricting. He might have been able to get the 155 Texas delegates but now I don’t expect him to last beyond South Carolina.
As previously mentioned, the earliest any candidate can get the required number of delegates to wrap the nomination is late March and that’s if they run the table. If the Ron Paul flash mob continues to show up at these races, he might just pick up enough delegates to challenge Romney; particularly if Gingrich, Santorum, and Perry can’t maintain the momentum to continue. And not all of these candidates have casino moguls in their back pockets.
Could Ron Paul be the anti-Romney candidate everyone has been clamouring for? We’ll know something by Tuesday, March 6th if he has staying power and can project the perception of viability.
- Mitt Romney Surges In National Polls (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Romney adds to lead in race for GOP delegates (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Jon Huntsman’s exit from GOP race shows emerging futility to Mitt Romney challenge (boston.com)
- Huntsman quits race, backs Romney (smh.com.au)
- Watch: Jon Huntsman Drops Out of GOP Presidential Race (abcnews.go.com)