Category Archives: Republican Primary Race

The First Run-off Poll

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 23, 2017 — JMC Analytics and Polling, one of the pollsters for the special Alabama Senate Republican primary, is first to release run-off numbers. In their post-primary survey (Aug. 17-19; 515 completed interviews of Republican likely run-off voters), JMC finds appointed Sen. Luther Strange to be in deep political trouble, but some of the numbers may be slightly exaggerated.

According to the results, former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore leads Sen. Strange by a substantial 51-32 percent count, remembering that the primary results four days before were 39-33 percent in the challenger’s favor. This clearly suggests that supporters of the third-place finisher, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), are flocking to Judge Moore in droves.

Geographically, the respondent sample is divided into five segments, with the Huntsville sector coming very close to the confines of Rep. Brooks’ northern Alabama 5th Congressional District. According to this grouping, Judge Moore receives a commanding 52-29 percent support factor in this region thus explaining the large statewide polling swing to Moore when compared to the primary results.

Judge Moore also does well in the Birmingham (49-36 percent), Montgomery (58-22 percent), and Dothan (69-19 percent) sectors. He carries Mobile by just a two-point spread, however, 42-40 percent.

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Denying Trump

March 4, 2016 — The Republicans are at a political crossroads. Now with voting completed in 15 states, Donald Trump finds himself settling into a support zone of between 316-334 committed delegates, depending upon what media count one examines. Sen. Ted Cruz’s support lies in the 224-234 range, while Sen. Marco Rubio falls between 110-113 pledged first ballot tallies. Gov. John Kasich has between 23-28 committed votes, while Dr. Ben Carson, who suspended his campaign Wednesday, has eight delegates according to all renderings. Carson will be speaking today at CPAC in Washington, D.C.

Trump’s high total of 334 is far from the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination, with 41 more states and territories yet to vote. In the next two weeks, culminating with the big Winner-Take-All primaries in Florida (99 delegates) and Ohio (66 delegates), voters from 17 entities will visit the polls. At the end of voting on March 15, 1,466 of 2,472 Republican delegates (59.3 percent) will be assigned to a candidate or placed in the unbound category. Therefore, the next two weeks will prove critical toward determining the GOP resolution.

Without changing the present course, Trump is likely to win the Republican nomination because no one opponent has unified the anti-Trump coalition. If the early front runner were to score another plurality victory in Florida and Ohio, an additional 165 delegates would come his way in addition to what he gains in places like Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri, all of which will vote on or before March 15.

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Bloomberg Super Tuesday Poll;
Arizona Rep. Salmon To Retire

Feb. 29, 2016 — Last week during the Republican presidential debate from the University of Houston, Donald Trump made reference to “loving” a Bloomberg Poll forecasting the candidates’ prospects for the upcoming Super Tuesday primaries. But the poll does little to provide much useful information.

Bloomberg News and the Purple Strategies consulting firm again teamed up to release a political survey. But this online poll, which questions 1,254 respondents over the Feb. 22-24 period in the seven “SEC Primary” states – the name given for Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, all that are holding primary elections on March 1 and most of which belong to the Southeastern Conference collegiate sports league – as one unit. Therefore, the conclusions reflect a region result that has no relevance in how people in the individual states will vote or apportion delegates.

Trump mentioned it in the debate because the data finds him leading his Republican competitors region-wide, 37-20-20-8-6 percent over senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Dr. Ben Carson, and Gov. John Kasich, respectively, but does little to portray anything of significance since the states are not voting as a unified block.

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Obama vs. Romney – The New Map

With Rick Santorum exiting the presidential campaign, the general election pairing between President Barack Obama and GOP-designee Mitt Romney is now unofficially underway. Based upon polling compiled in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Electoral College clearly stacks up in the President’s favor, but the Republicans appear to have already improved their position over John McCain’s dismal 2008 performance.

Today, according to a myriad of public polls, President Obama would carry 26 states plus the District of Columbia for a grand total of 341 Electoral Votes as compared to 24 states and 197 EV’s for Romney. In 2008, the President’s margin of victory over McCain was 365-173, translating into a 64 percent Democratic majority in the Electoral College.

According to the survey data, if the election happened now, the states of Indiana and Iowa would convert from Obama to Romney. The Republican would also reunite Nebraska, meaning the 2nd Congressional District, an EV that went Obama’s way in 2008, would return to the GOP fold. Nebraska and Maine are the only two states who split their Electoral College votes based on statewide and congressional district percentages.

The other change that results in a 12-vote gain for Republicans is reapportionment. With the transfer of 12 congressional seats nationally from one affected state to another, the GOP gains six votes and Obama loses six, for an aggregate swing of 12. This is equivalent to the Republicans converting a state the size of Washington (the only state possessing 12 Electoral votes).

If the polls are accurate, Romney is already gaining 34 Electoral Votes over the McCain total. He is still 73 short of defeating Obama, meaning the states of North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Ohio again become critically important. A Republican sweep of these places would unseat Obama.

Romney Wins … Lite

While Mitt Romney won the three primary elections last night, Wisconsin, the District of Columbia, and Maryland, he again he failed to break the 50 percent mark when facing a full slate of GOP opponents. He claimed 70 percent in DC, and all 17 Winner-Take-All delegates, but Rick Santorum was not on the ballot.

In the swing state of Wisconsin, though Romney won, his 42-38 percent margin over Santorum was again unimpressive. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) placed third with 12 percent, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s 6 percent. But Maryland might have been a bit more surprising. Though it was a clean win for Romney, as all expected, he still couldn’t break the 50 percent threshold even there. The latest tally showed Romney at 49 percent and Santorum posting 29 percent.

Both Maryland and Wisconsin award delegates on a statewide and congressional district basis. Obviously Romney will win the statewide delegates in both places, but it remains to be seen if he sweeps all eight districts in both places. Once the congressional tallies are known, each state’s delegate allocation will be then formulated.

All in all a good night for Romney, and he likely will attain his cumulative minimum delegate goals for the three states. The question remains, however, are plurality victories at this stage of the campaign enough to ward off the possibility of an open convention? With places like Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, and West Virginia still to vote, it is very likely that the remaining states will not be sweeps for the current front-runner. Romney, of course, is expected to do well in New York, New Jersey, California, and Utah, but even winning all of these contests may not give him the 1,144 delegate commitments a candidate needs to clinch the nomination. The uncommitted and unbound delegates may, in the end, be needed to put Mr. Romney over the top.

Can Romney Clinch GOP Nomination Tomorrow?

The Republican presidential campaign train heads to three more critical primary states Tuesday, featuring one state that some believe will set the final tone for this long nomination battle. GOP primary voters in the critical swing state of Wisconsin, along with those from the District of Columbia and Maryland will have the opportunity of making their sentiments known. Could a strong night from favored candidate Mitt Romney effectively clinch the nomination? The Romney campaign will make every effort to sell such a premise, but the official confirmed delegate count doesn’t support such a story.

The District of Columbia is a straight Winner-Take-All primary, meaning that the candidate attracting the most votes, almost assuredly Romney, will win all 17 DC delegates. Maryland and Wisconsin are Winner-Take-All by state and congressional district, meaning the candidate winning the statewide vote receives an allocated number of delegates and additional votes for every congressional district in which the candidate places first. Therefore, for Romney to claim all 96 delegates at stake tomorrow (DC-17; MD-37; WI-42), he would have to win DC, take the Maryland and Wisconsin statewide tallies, and finish first in all eight congressional districts in both states. This is certainly a tall order, especially with the polling showing Wisconsin to be relatively close.

Three Badger State polls were released late last week, all showing Romney leading, but with Rick Santorum within shouting distance. It is important to remember that the pollsters have tended to underestimate Santorum’s strength in previous primary or caucus election votes, so anything can still happen.

In a study labeled their “March 2012” survey of 740 registered voters who say they will vote in the April 3 Republican primary, the Marist/NBC News Wisconsin poll gives Romney a 40-33 percent lead over Santorum. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) and Newt Gingrich trail with 11 and 8 percent, respectively.

Rasmussen Reports (March 29; 71 likely Wisconsin GOP voters) posts Romney to a 44-34 percent advantage. According to RR, Paul and Gingrich follow with 7 percent apiece.

The Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College survey (March 24-28; 403 likely Wisconsin voters) scores it 37-32 percent, Romney over Santorum with Paul at 8 percent and Gingrich registering 4 percent.

In all of these instances, while Romney leads the field he is nowhere near 50 percent. This has been the consistent pattern throughout the entire election and the reason he is not yet in nomination clinching range.

So far, according to our PRIsm Information Network count of the minimum number of post-Super Tuesday delegates that Romney must confirm, the former Massachusetts governor has attracted an unofficial 139 delegate votes. The minimum number to stay on track from the 11 states and territories voting after March 6, is 132. Mr. Romney needs to secure at least 76 of the available 96 delegate votes tomorrow in order to keep pace. To win the Republican nomination, a candidate must obtain 1,144 delegate votes at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in late August.

The Importance of Wisconsin and Indiana

With a break in the presidential voting action until Tuesday and Mitt Romney again trying to instill a sense of the inevitability of his victory by rolling out important endorsements like former President George H.W. Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), we take a look at the remaining 22 entities that still lie ahead on the political landscape.

So far, Romney has won 20 voting entities and lost 14. Of the remaining 22 still to vote, 11 look like they are headed his way (California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Utah), while nine are places where Rick Santorum still has a chance to win (Arkansas, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and West Virginia). Should Santorum take all nine of these entities – and several are iffy – and Romney capture the 11 projected to go his way, the scorecard will read: Romney 31 states and territories; Others 23, with Wisconsin (April 3) and Indiana (May 8) shaping up as the key swing states.

Should Santorum upset Romney in Wisconsin and Indiana, the nomination fight could again divert along a new path and thoughts of an open convention could become real. If Romney wins the Badger State with a follow-up score in the Hoosier State, then the nomination battle truly could be over. Looking ahead, it now appears that this pair of states could become the final indicators.

Santorum Win Louisiana; Argues Delegate Count

Rick Santorum accomplished his goal Saturday night in Louisiana, easily outdistancing Mitt Romney 49-27 percent, with Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) posting 16 and 6 percent, respectively. Of Louisiana’s 46 delegates, only 20 of them were at stake in the primary and Santorum stands a good chance of capturing 14. The remainder will be chosen at the state Republican convention to be held June 1st and 2nd.

Louisiana was the type of victory Santorum needed to re-establish momentum before going to the April 3 primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Of the three, DC, where Romney is expected to easily romp, is a Winner-Take-All entity, so all 17 delegates should go his way. Wisconsin and Maryland both use the same allocation system. Delegate votes are awarded for winning statewide and for carrying each of their respective eight congressional districts. Wisconsin has 42 total delegates and Maryland 37. The Wisconsin vote will likely to be close, while Romney has a chance to sweep Maryland and convert all 37 delegates.

Again we saw a familiar pattern in Louisiana. Though Santorum swept all the parishes except one, Mr. Romney placed first in the state’s most urban area – New Orleans. Such a result has been consistent throughout the campaign. Romney does well in the most urbanized areas of a state, but poorly in the rural regions and very poorly in the south. Having a Republican nominee weak in the party’s base areas is not an enviable position for the GOP when they face President Obama later this year. Romney will not be able to count on commensurate urban support against the incumbent Democratic nominee.

But, it’s the overall delegate count that is the subject of much discussion and fraught with misconception. The CNN number is a good benchmark for the media counts. The broadcast organization shows Romney with 549 delegates through Illinois and Santorum with 249, Gingrich 137, Paul 69, and 137 delegates unallocated from the 33 states and territories already voting.

The Republican National Committee official count, however, tells a much different story. Factoring out those delegates who the individual states have not yet chosen nor bound for at least a first ballot vote, Romney would have 339 delegates, Santorum only 95, Gingrich 107, and Paul 22 with 300 unallocated. Using the official RNC accounting, Romney is 805 votes away from committing the 1,144 delegates required to clinch victory, rather than 595 as the media depicts.

The pro-Santorum Red, White and Blue Super PAC has an even different count. Where the RNC does not yet add recent Santorum victory states because their delegates still must be officially chosen at convention, the inclusion of states like Alabama, Mississippi and Kansas changes the picture greatly. According to Red, White, and Blue, the count is: Romney 344; Santorum 193; Gingrich 160; Paul 33; Unallocated 411. Therefore, the Santorum Super PAC projection, in similar fashion to the RNC, shows that Romney is still a whopping 800 committed votes from the magic number.

So, despite all of the aforementioned entities, and then some, looking at exactly the same results, highly diverse accounting results continue to emerge. It again proves that this Republican nomination campaign still has a very long way to go.

What’s Next for Santorum?

After sustaining a predicted 35-47 percent loss in Tuesday’s Illinois primary, but securing a minimum of 12 delegates under the state’s loophole rule (the people directly vote for individuals running for delegate), Rick Santorum now proceeds toward two critical states, Louisiana this Saturday and Wisconsin on April 3.

Magellan Strategies, in a Louisiana poll conducted on March 19, posts Santorum to a 37-24-21 percent advantage over Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, respectively. Winning Louisiana is a must if Santorum is to regain some of the momentum he lost in Illinois this week. He will then have to rebound for a win in the Great Lakes State of Wisconsin, where his blue-collar manufacturing/traditional values message should resonate well within the GOP voter base. Romney is likely to cruise to easy winner-take-all victories in Maryland and the District of Columbia on that same day, thus increasing Wisconsin’s importance for Santorum.

Another state on the May 8 horizon where Santorum appears strong is North Carolina, with its large base of 55 delegates. A new Survey USA poll (March 16-20; 403 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters) gives the former Pennsylvania senator a 34-26-18 percent edge over Romney and Gingrich.

Though the delegate spread is growing in Romney’s favor, there are still many opportunities for Santorum to close the gap and force an open convention.

Illinois Primary Answers

Mitt Romney easily won the Illinois primary last night finishing exactly as the late polls predicted, 47-35 percent over Rick Santorum. Delegate-wise, it is more difficult to project this soon into the post-election process because Illinois is a “Loophole Primary” and voters were actually choosing individuals on the ballot to fill 66 of the 69 delegate positions. Romney will very likely exit Illinois with more delegates than the other candidates; but will he have enough to stay on track to reach the 1,144 committed delegates prior to the Republican National Convention in Tampa? It still may be too early to answer that question.

The congressional primaries brought few surprises, though the margin of veteran Rep. Don Manzullo’s defeat at the hands of freshman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11) raised more than a few eyebrows in the new 16th District. Polling had forecast an even race and it appeared Manzullo had the forward momentum toward the end of the campaign, but this clearly proved to be a misconception. Kinzinger won a 56-44 percent victory, a raw vote total of more than 9,000 votes. Since the Democrats did not file a candidate in the 16th District, Kinzinger is a lock in the general election. The county chairmen do have the power to meet and choose a nominee, but such a person would start in a major deficit position after this victory performance in what should be a reliable Republican seat.

In the lakeside 10th District, attorney Brad Schneider won a 47-39 percent win over political activist Ilya Sheyman, a favorite of the liberal “Netroots” organizations. He will oppose freshman Rep. Bob Dold (R) in what will be a highly competitive general election race.

To the southwest in the new Chicago suburban 11th CD, Rep. Judy Biggert (R) will attempt to convert the marginal seat intended as a Democratic pick-up. Former Rep. Bill Foster, who lost his 14th District seat in 2010, won the Democratic nomination with 59 percent of the vote against two other opponents. This also will be a race to watch in the fall.

In the western Illinois 17th District, East Moline Alderwoman Cheri Bustos cracked the 58 percent mark against two other candidates and will give freshman Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) all he can handle in the general election.

It is reasonable to expect heavy competition in six of the state’s 18 congressional districts. Democrats hope to net four seats when the dust settles in November. It is unclear how many they will actually win, but Dem gains are expected in the Land of Lincoln especially with favorite son Barack Obama again leading the top of the national ticket.

Today’s Illinois Primary

The state of Illinois now begins the process of deciding how their 69 delegates will vote at the Republican National Convention. Polling consistently shows Mitt Romney leading Rick Santorum, but not by such a margin as to close out the latter’s candidacy.

Illinois is one of two “Loophole” primary states. Voters will actually vote twice for president today. They will first choose one of the national candidates, and then directly vote for individuals running for delegate from their particular congressional district. The popular vote has no bearing on the delegate selection process. The Loophole primary got its name because this particular system allowed a candidate to theoretically take all of a state’s delegates even though the entity did not adopt the winner-take-all format. The only other Loophole primary state is Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania.

Illinois will also choose its congressional nominees today. The House race attracting the most attention is the nip and tuck battle between veteran Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL-16) and freshman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11) for the newly configured 16th CD. Polling shows a virtual tie, so expect this one to be decided by a very close margin.

The new Chicago suburban 8th District will choose a Democratic nominee, as former Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth battles ex-Deputy state Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi. The winner faces freshman Rep. Joe Walsh (R) in the general election, and will likely be favored because redistricting has significantly changed the political complexion of this district.

Along Lake Michigan north of Chicago in the 10th District, Democrats are sparring to find a nominee to challenge freshman Rep. Bob Dold (R) in a race that also promises to be competitive.

The Dems will also be selecting nominees to face Reps. Tim Johnson (R-IL-13) and Bobby Schilling (R-IL-17) in campaigns that also have the potential of becoming highly competitive.

Finally, both parties will choose their candidates to square off in the open 12th District, a seat left open because Rep. Jerry Costello (D) chose not to seek re-election. This district, too, has competitive possibilities for the fall.

Another interesting political night is again in store. Many questions will be answered and several new ones will undoubtedly be asked.

Romney Takes Puerto Rico; Delegate Projection Math

Mitt Romney steamrolled to victory in Puerto Rico’s primary last night, getting just over 83 percent of the vote. Turnout was on a pace to break 135,000 voters. Four years ago the Puerto Rico Republicans held a closed caucus, so there is nothing to compare the 2012 participation result. The win will likely net Romney 20 delegates. According to our PRIsm Information Network delegate tracking project, last night’s addition puts Romney seven delegate votes ahead of the minimum post-Super Tuesday commitments he needs to secure the nomination.

Tracking Republican presidential nomination delegates is no easy task. Great misconceptions abound as to whether or not Romney can secure the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinching the party nomination before the Republican National Convention begins in late August.

Simplistic delegate projection analyses, such as that of political pundit Dick Morris in his March 14 article on Dick Morris.com, are incorrect. Morris argues that Romney will clinch the nomination in early June because he will win the winner-take-all states of Puerto Rico (23 delegates), District of Columbia (19), Maryland (37), Connecticut (28), Delaware (17), Rhode Island (19), Oregon (28), California (172), Montana (26), New Jersey (50), and Utah (40). Morris goes onto say that Romney is also best positioned to claim the following “winner-take-all” states: Wisconsin (42), Indiana (46), West Virginia (31), Nebraska (35), and South Dakota (28). He then argues that Romney’s share of the remaining proportional states would give him a total of 1,298 delegates, or 154 more than the minimum target figure of 1,144.

The flaw in Morris’ calculations is that most of the states he cites as “winner-take-all” have rather stringent conditions to meet before a candidate is awarded all the entity’s delegates. In certain places becoming winner-take-all means a candidate must capture a majority of the votes cast (Connecticut, Puerto Rico), while others organize as winner-take-all statewide and then in congressional districts.

In the latter grouping – Maryland, Wisconsin and California on Morris’ list – a candidate is awarded a certain number of delegates for winning the statewide vote, usually 10, and an additional three for each congressional district carried. Thus, for a contender to win all of the state’s delegates in these places, he would have to win the statewide vote and every congressional district.

While it is mathematically possible to achieve this difficult victory scenario, in 2012 it has been rare when a candidate breaks the 50 percent mark. In fact, only nine times has a candidate received a majority vote and in two of those a full complement of candidates failed to qualify for the ballot. Romney scored majorities in Nevada, Idaho, Massachusetts, Virginia (only he and Ron Paul were on the ballot), Guam (only candidate on ballot), Puerto Rico and the Marianas Islands. Rick Santorum recorded majority wins in Kansas and Missouri (a “beauty contest vote” not determinative of delegate selection).

Of those states Morris previously mentioned, only Delaware (17 delegates), the District of Columbia (19), Montana (26), New Jersey (50), and Utah (40) are true Winner-Take-All states. Thus, the projection that Mr. Romney will secure the nomination after the mega California primary on June 5 is more than likely inaccurate.

Here We Go Again: Santorum Takes Alabama, Mississippi

Mitt Romney’s fundamental weakness as a Republican presidential candidate again came to the forefront in last night’s Alabama and Mississippi primaries: He fares poorly in the south and in rural areas, the heart of the Republican vote base. His third-place finish in both states is a surprise considering several polls suggested he would either win or finish a close second in both places.

Looking at the Alabama map in particular, it again clearly illustrates the problems Romney has in an eventual face-off with President Obama. His only Alabama regional wins came in the state’s three largest urban metro areas: Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile. This was exactly the same pattern we saw in Ohio, where his strong performance in the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati metropolises were enough to propel him to a razor-thin statewide victory. In a general election format, however, the city vote disappears to the Democratic nominee – President Obama – and his weakness within the Republican base regions becomes even more of a factor.

Consistently in the Republican nomination race, it has been Rick Santorum who has far exceeded his polling performance. Claiming first place in Mississippi and Alabama gives the once obscure GOP “also-ran” candidate now nine victories from the 28 states that have held nominating events (Santorum’s strong win in the Missouri primary did not carry any delegates and is omitted from this summation). Romney has won 16 states and territories, Newt Gingrich two, and Rep. Ron Paul one (a tight win in the little-noticed Virgin Islands caucus where only 384 people voted).

Hawaii and American Samoa, in the far western time zones, also held caucuses last night; Romney won both of these Pacific Rim entities.

Turning to the delegate count, we again remind our readers that every projection is a mere estimate. No single accurate accounting actually exists and won’t until the delegates themselves are chosen. Therefore, the most important number to follow is a “guesstimate” of Romney’s delegate total. Even with his two victories last night, it is probable that neither Santorum nor Gingrich can commit the 1,144 delegate votes needed to score a first ballot victory when the Republican National Convention convenes in late August. But Romney is not particularly close to getting there either.

In the four nominating events held last night, by our calculations, Mr. Romney needed to secure 46 delegate votes, and he appears to have come up short. In Alabama, where 16 delegate votes were required to keep pace in order to achieve just the bare minimum majority number, it looks like his total will be closer to seven. Needing 12 delegates from Mississippi, he may have notched 11. He will probably reach or exceed the combined number of 18 for Hawaii and American Samoa, once those votes are fully tabulated.

Still, even with a strong showing in those two places (Hawaii 20 total delegates; American Samoa nine), Mr. Romney will likely fall short of the 46 that would keep him on the trajectory to barely hit the 1,144 necessary votes. He is likely to come closer to 36 total delegates from last night’s voting, rather than the projected 46. Since the delegate forecasts are based upon achieving the absolute minimum number to claim the nomination, the margin for error is non-existent.

In an interview with Fox News last night, Gingrich predicted that Romney would fall short of committing the 1,144 necessary delegate votes once all 56 states and territories have voted. Gingrich went on to say that he would stay in the race all the way to the convention in Tampa, thus remaining alive in an open convention where anything might happen.

The Missouri County Caucuses are next to begin their voting process and will do so tomorrow. The results will likely codify Santorum’s previous primary victory. Missouri delegate selection (52 votes) comes via the caucus procedure. The Puerto Rico primary (23 delegates) is scheduled for Sunday, March 18, followed by the important Illinois primary (69 votes) slated for Tuesday, March 20.

The Delegate Flow

As we’re quickly approaching the Iowa Caucus vote on Jan. 3, it is now time to look at the vastly different 2012 Republican delegate selection schedule. Much has changed, timing-wise, since the 2008 campaign. No longer is the system so heavily front-loaded, meaning the nomination fight could drive well past the early March Super Tuesday primary date.

While the media attempts to create political momentum through their coverage of the small, early caucus and primary states, the fact remains that after the first five events – Iowa Caucus (Jan. 3), New Hampshire primary (Jan. 10), South Carolina primary (Jan. 21), Florida primary (Jan. 31) and Nevada Caucuses (Feb. 4), only 143 total delegates of the 2,288 penalty-adjusted votes (just 6 percent) will be chosen. Therefore, if one candidate has a cumulative 35 percent of the pledged delegates after those events, a reasonable figure for the leader, he or she would have only 50 delegates after Nevada concludes, or just 4 percent of the total needed to clinch the nomination (1,145).

It is important to remember that the Florida Republican Party and four other states (New Hampshire, South Carolina, Michigan and Arizona) chose to forfeit half of their delegations in order to move into a more prominent voting position. Therefore, in Florida’s case, the state with the second largest contingent of Republican congressmen has a total delegate count of only 50.

After the voters in the first five states cast their ballots, we then move onto the second tier of states, stopping in Michigan and Arizona (Feb. 28), on our way to Super Tuesday, March 6. In 2012, however, fewer entities are participating in the Super Tuesday contest. Ten states are holding their primary and caucus elections that day, representing 428 available delegates. This means more states and greater numbers of voters will have a role in choosing the next Republican nominee and do so later in the process.

The nomination could easily be decided during the post-Super Tuesday period that will last through the end of April. During that time, an additional 858 delegates in 21 states and territories will be chosen, meaning approximately two-thirds of the entire pool will be claimed. If the identity of the GOP nominee is still not obvious, then the traveling primary show moves through an additional 10 states in May, with Pennsylvania (72 delegates) and North Carolina (55 delegates) being the biggest prizes.

In the end, it may be early June before a Republican nominee clearly emerges. On the 5th of that month, the largest single state delegation will be apportioned, California (172 delegates), along with New Jersey (50 delegates), Montana (26 delegates), New Mexico (23 delegates) and South Dakota (28 delegates). All voting will conclude with the Utah primary (40 delegates) on June 26.

Today, it’s hard to determine which candidate’s campaign becomes a juggernaut and gains enough momentum to soar toward the nomination. Eventually that will occur, but it now appears, due to a combination of rules changes and the way in which the campaign is unfolding, that projecting the Republican presidential nominee will happen at a much later date than once commonly believed.