Just who is the frontrunner in the Republican Campaign and does it matter? The Republican party has long had a habit of nominating who’s next in the pecking order rather than who is most desirable. The popular saying is, ‘Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line’.
Now that the field of candidates is narrowing, let’s dig a little deeper into the primary season math. Recall the spreadsheet primary calendar from a couple of articles back:
Let’s consider a few factors such as the general ranking of the four remaining Republican candidates (note: the following rankings are arbitrary estimates of the author’s interpretation of polling and not based on any specific poll):
- Romney 37 %
- Gingrich 37 %
- Paul @ 15 %
- Santorum @ 11 %
Gingrich and Romney are tied in a dead heat.
Ron Paul is always going to have the same amount of rabid supporters no matter what and the numbers are unlikely to change.
Rick Santorum will drop out soon. When will he do this and who will his supporters back? Let’s tackle that nebulous question first. Santorum is actually polling ahead of Paul in Florida. That’s not saying a lot since Florida is a winner-take-all state for delegates and Santorum does not appear to have a casino mogul dumping millions into his campaign. So unless evangelicals wake up from their succubus lust-fest with Newt Gingrich, it’s doubtful that Santorum can survive until Super Tuesday on March 6th. It isn’t clear who his supporters will back but if the anti-Romney theory holds true then it’s safe to guess that Santorum’s supporters are of the same mindset as Gingrich’s.
BUT, Gingrich failed to get on the ballot in Virginia and Missouri (there’s also some discrepancies in Tennessee but let’s skip that for now). That’s either a testament to his campaign’s poor planning or; like Herman Cain, Gingrich never expected to be doing this well after being declared dead in the water the first time. So Romney wins those two by default. Here’s how the next few races break down.
Jan. 31 Florida. Winner-take-all, 50 delegates. Considering Florida has already had several hundred thousand mail-in/absentee votes prior to Gingrich’s South Carolina surge and given south Florida’s demographic make up, this one barely goes to Romney.
Feb. 4th. Nevada caucus. 28 delegates. Probably Romney (Proximity to Utah and Mormon stuff, you know).
Feb. 4-11th, Maine caucus. 24 Delegates. The Massachusetts discount translates to Romney win although if Ron Paul were to win a state, this would be a likely candidate.
Unless the negative ads combined with Mitt continuously sticking his out-of-touch-with-the-middle-class foot in his mouth it looks like Romney racks up the wins from here to Super Tuesday. On that day, March 6th, there are a number of southern state primaries as well as open primaries occurring. By then (which is a long way off to estimate), Romney should have the delegate lead. Gingrich, supposing he hasn’t self-destructed, will probably be in a distant second place closer to Ron Paul’s position. Why? Because Ron Paul’s strategy for mobilizing disaffected voters of all denominations in the nine front loaded open primaries may actually work. Gingrich’s failure to get on the ballots in Virginia and Missouri while Ron Paul did will also cost him. Even with Rick Santorum’s entire constituency behind him, should Santorum decide to drop out after Florida and endorse Gingrich (which isn’t a forgone conclusion), Romney is still likely to win the delegate math.
Gingrich’s only saving grace are the states of the former Confederacy. Ron Paul’s only saving grace are open primaries and disaffected Democrats and independents. Romney’s only saving grace is the absence of a party revolt, the absence of southern states in the next few races, and the absence of a brokered convention where they anoint someone like Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, or Jeb Bush at the last minute.
In the aftermath of Super Tuesday, the rankings will possibly be:
- Romney 50 %
- A wounded Gingrich 27 %
- A stronger Ron Paul 22 %
- (No Santorum)
One last assumption: Ron Paul is in for the long haul. Paul is a Libertarian disguised as a Republican. It’s the only way he could ever be taken seriously by Republican voters as a viable alternative to the circus clown car that is the Republican candidate field. So let’s assume Ron Paul will never garner more than 15% of the entire Republican electorate. That’s roughly 337 delegates. Since many of the final contests after Super Tuesday are winner-take-all, Paul’s delegate count will be significantly lower. Let’s say Paul only gets 250 delegates. That leaves around 2,000 left. Looking at the delegate counts of the remaining states, it’s not too hard to see Gingrich falling short of the roughly 1,125 delegates needed to cinch the nomination. Then again, it’s not too hard to imagine that no one receives the required amount of delegates to cinch the nomination.
Nancy Pelosi publicly stated today that Newt Gingrich will never be President much less the nominee. When asked why, she demurred, ‘there are things out there’. She wouldn’t comment on what those things were and Gingrich says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about and that Pelosi should “bring it on”.
The Republican party loathing of Gingrich is likely to keep him from being the nominee if the public fails to see through the thin veneer of the Gingrich. But the Republican/Tea Party rage is likely to keep Newt in the never-ending race to the bottom. And as Ann Coulter put it, “Mitt Romney will be the nominee and we’ll lose” to Obama.
- The Republican Sub-Primary (538refugees.wordpress.com)
- Newt Gingrich: The Frontrunner With Ballot Access Issues (National Republic On-Line)