Monthly Archives: February 2012

Doing the Delegate Math: Exactly Who’s Right?

In tracking the delegate count for the Republican presidential nomination, it is clear that no “official” tabulation exists. In fact, virtually all major media organizations and political websites have different totals for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, and with wide divergence.

Below are the latest published delegate counts from key media and political outlets. Notice that only ABC News and the New York Times agree, which probably means they are using the same source.

   • ABC News: Romney 105; Santorum 71; Gingrich 29; Paul 18

   • CBS News: Romney 111; Santorum 44; Gingrich 30; Paul 15

   • CNN: Romney 127; Gingrich 38; Santorum 37; Paul 27

   • Fox News: Romney 107; Santorum 45; Gingrich 32; Paul 9

   • The Green Papers: Romney 107; Santorum 43; Gingrich 43; Paul 35

   • NBC News: Romney 84; Gingrich 29; Santorum 14; Paul 11

   • New York Times: Romney 105; Santorum 71; Gingrich 29; Paul 18

   • Real Clear Politics: Romney 99; Santorum 47; Gingrich 32; Paul 20

To recap, the eight entities don’t even show a consistent order of candidates – CNN and NBC have Gingrich in second place and the others project Santorum in the runner-up position. Romney ranges from a low of 84 pledged delegates (NBC) to a high of 127 (CNN). Santorum’s spread is from 14 (NBC) to 71 (ABC/NYT). Former Speaker Gingrich appears to be most consistent, tallying in a range from 29 (ABC/NYT) to 43 (The Green Papers). Finally, Rep. Paul runs the gamut from 9 (Fox) to 35 (The Green Papers).

Why the differences? First, even some states where voters have already participated – Iowa, Nevada, Missouri, Maine, Colorado and Minnesota – won’t actually apportion their delegates until convention events later in the year. Some of the aforementioned trackers are estimating what these states will eventually do based upon the public votes already cast.

Secondly, the media and political sources either are, or are not, projecting unpledged delegate votes. Many of the unpledged delegates themselves aren’t even chosen yet.

Third, at least two states’ delegations, Florida and Arizona, will likely be challenged at the Republican National Committee Convention. Both are apportioning their delegates under a winner-take-all option in defiance of RNC rules. Only states that vote after Super Tuesday (March 6) are entitled to use the winner-take-all format. Therefore, the Florida count (50 delegates for Romney) could change. The same with Arizona (29 delegates), which votes Feb. 28.

Considering that no official delegate count actually exists, it clearly means we will continue to see a very fluid situation that could lead to a surprising conclusion. Keep in mind, regardless of the apportioned delegate count’s accuracy, or lack of it, only 11 percent of the 2,286 delegates have been assigned. The mathematics continue to show that this race is still very much undecided.

Pennsylvania Congressional Candidates Underwhelming

The Pennsylvania candidate filing deadline closed this week (Feb. 14), and the word to describe the new crop of congressional candidates may just be “underwhelming.” It appears that both parties have left opportunities to capture districts on the table.

Surprisingly, just one state legislator throughout the entire Keystone State is running for congress: York County Rep. Scott Perry (R) has declared for the lone open seat, that of retiring Rep. Todd Platts in the 4th CD. This, in a state featuring four freshmen Republicans (Reps. Mike Kelly, PA-3; Pat Meehan, PA-7; Tom Marino, PA-10; and Lou Barletta, PA-11), one Democrat member serving slightly more than a term (Rep. Mark Critz, PA-12) and a Republican who had previously been defeated only to rebound in 2010 (Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, PA-8).

No particularly strong Republican challenger stepped forward in the Senate race, where first-term Democratic incumbent Bob Casey Jr. is seeking re-election. After the last election, with a victory in the governor’s race, the addition of five congressional seats, and converting the state House to majority status, the Republicans had high hopes of bringing down Casey. However, with little in the way of political fire power for the 2012 Senate race, Pennsylvania must go down as the Republicans’ biggest national recruiting disappointment.

But it is the Democrats who appear to have failed at the candidate recruiting game for House races. Against Rep. Mike Kelly, who defeated freshman Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper 56-44 percent less than two years ago, only a college professor, an attorney and a defeated candidate are coming forward to run. That’s not to say one of these men couldn’t transform themselves into a strong contender, but the first impression suggests that Kelly is in the driver’s seat.

A bright spot for the Republicans is Lou Barletta, who knocked off veteran Rep. Paul Kanjorski by a full 10 points in a district where the President notched 57.5% two years earlier; Barletta now sees his seat improve tremendously. Under the new PA-11 lines, Mr. Obama would have scored only 47.7 percent. Two Democrats, a pharmacy wholesale store owner, and a defeated state representative candidate are the only ones to file against the new congressman and former Hazelton mayor.

But District 12 is a Republican recruiting disappointment. With Pennsylvania losing a seat in reapportionment, the GOP legislature combined Democratic incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz into a new 12th District that a Republican could win (Obama: 45.2 percent). After recruitment overtures were turned down by state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, and a local county official, the Republicans will have to settle for 2010 nominee, Keith Rothfus, to go against Altmire. Rothfus only lost 49-51 percent in the last go-around, but his campaign was less than stellar. We’ll see if he steps it up this time around.

Finally, though Rep. Charlie Dent’s Allentown-Bethlehem 15th District improves 3.5 points in the Republicans’ favor, the President still gained an outright majority here, registering 52.8 percent. Dent racked up his largest career re-election percentage in 2010 (53-39 percent) against strong competition, John Callahan, the mayor of Bethlehem. This largely explains why the Democrats are fielding only the Lehigh County Democratic chairman and a former congressional aide.

For a place with so many marginal seats, and one that will be a key presidential battleground state, the congressional elections now appear much tamer than originally anticipated. In the current Pennsylvania political world, this ultimately means good news for the Republicans.

Santorum Leading in Ohio

On the heels of the Public Policy Polling survey showing former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum leading the Republican presidential field in Michigan, Quinnipiac University released the results of their Ohio poll (Feb. 7-12; 1,421 registered Ohio voters) that likewise places him first. According to the data, Mr. Santorum has a 36-29-20 percent lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, respectively.

Ohio is the key state for Santorum on Super Tuesday (March 6). Emphasizing a resurgence in American manufacturing as one of his key campaign themes, Santorum must score well in states such as Ohio to boost his performance nationally.

An interesting Q-Poll question gives us insight into just how well Santorum’s economic message is resonating in the Midwest. In asking the question, “Would you say that (candidate’s name) cares about the needs and problems of people like you or not?”, the pollsters are attempting to determine how well each candidate transcends class distinctions.

When President Obama’s name is inserted into the question, 58 percent of those sampled said “yes” and 39 percent replied “no.” Conversely, both Romney and Gingrich fared poorly. For Romney, only 40 percent answered affirmatively compared to 48 percent who responded negatively. Gingrich’s numbers were even worse: 37:53 percent.

Santorum scored best. When this question is asked about him, 53 percent said “yes” and only 29 percent said “no.” The results of this question support the overall poll’s conclusion that today, Rick Santorum, is the man to beat in Ohio.

New Senate Numbers in Hawaii, Massachusetts

Hawaii

The Hawaii US Senate campaign is turning crazy. Now, another new poll reports starkly different results to some others already in the public domain. Ward Research, a Hawaii-based survey research firm, conducted a new poll with an abnormally long sampling period for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper (Jan. 26-Feb. 5; 771 registered Hawaii voters) and found Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI-2) to be enjoying a huge lead in both the Democratic primary and the general elections.

This contrasts with the latest Merriman Group independent study (Jan. 18-19), which showed only a six-point split between Hirono and former Gov. Linda Lingle (R). It further depicted the congresswoman trailing former Rep. Ed Case (D-HI-2) by two points in the intra-party vote.

The Ward numbers give Hirono a huge 57-37 percent lead over Lingle when the two are matched in what many predict could become a hotly contested general election. Additionally, the Democratic congresswoman maintains a 56-36 percent lead over Case, according to this latest survey. For her part, Hirono’s own pollster, The Benenson Strategy Group, released a survey in November posting her to a similar 54-36 percent lead over Case.

But the Merriman poll is not the only one reporting a much different result than Ward. Public Policy Polling’s October survey showed Hirono besting Lingle 48-42%, and the Republican former governor leading Case 45-43%. Hirono’s Democratic primary advantage was just five points over Case, 45-40%.

With so much discrepancy already existing among the pollsters, it is difficult to get a true read on this race. Since President Obama will run extremely well in Hawaii, the Democratic nominee will likely get a boost in the November general election. On the other hand, Lingle’s huge $1.767 million fourth quarter in fundraising puts her ahead of any other candidate, financially. It is clear she will have the monetary backing to run a strong campaign to compliment her almost universal name identification. Expect this race to become competitive, but the intangibles still favor Ms. Hirono and the Democrats.

Massachusetts

The MassInc Polling Group conducted a statewide Senatorial survey (Feb. 6-9; 503 registered Massachusetts voters) for WBUR radio in Boston, a National Public Radio station. They find former Obama Administration Consumer Affairs Advocate Elizabeth Warren (D) leading Sen. Scott Brown (R) 46-43 percent. Several previous polls have also shown Warren to be ahead, and by more than two points.

The data again illustrates how difficult it is for any Republican to win in the Bay State. Despite trailing, Sen. Brown’s favorability ratings are quite high. A full 50 percent of those interviewed say they have a positive opinion of Sen. Brown versus just 29 percent who registered an unfavorable comment. By contrast, Ms. Warren’s ratio is 39:29 percent.

The poll asked eight preference comparison questions about the candidates’ backgrounds, their views toward the middle class, who would perform better on economic issues, etc. Brown scored below Warren on only one substantive issue question, and on that by just one point. By a margin of 32-31 percent, the sampling universe said that Ms. Warren would better relate to the middle class. An additional 21 percent indicated the two candidates were equal in understanding the needs of middle class families.

The only question where Brown trailed by a relatively large percentage (34-24 percent) was in response to which candidate seems to have campaign momentum.

Therefore, despite the favorable reviews, Brown still trails on the ballot test question. These results are similar to those found in Florida, where Rep. Connie Mack IV is challenging Sen. Bill Nelson (D). There, Nelson’s personal numbers appear to be as good as Brown’s, but he too finds himself pitted in a close election battle.

With both candidates being heavily funded – Brown has already raised $8.6 million with $12.9 million in the bank; Warren has gathered slightly more, $8.9 million, but has considerably less, $6.14 million, cash-on-hand – it is clear this campaign will play out over a long course of time. The intangibles definitely favor Warren because a candidate uniting the Democratic Party will be very difficult to derail in one of the most Democratically-loyal states in the entire country. Sen. Brown is the right candidate to hold the seat for his party, but even he may not have enough ability to stem what could possibly be a very strong tide against him.

Weekly Redistricting Update

Significant redistricting action occurred in the following six states during the past week:

CONNECTICUT (current delegation: 5D) – The Connecticut state Supreme Court adopted the “least-change” map it ordered their special master to construct. The new congressional plan cements the Democrats’ 5-0 advantage in the delegation.

FLORIDA (current delegation: 19R-6D; gains two seats) – With the new congressional map awaiting Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) signature, Florida law mandates that the state Supreme Court approve all district maps, and the high court already has announced a hearing schedule. The state will present its legal arguments regarding the congressional and legislative maps on Feb. 2. The Supreme Court must either approve the maps or send them back to the legislature for re-drawing purposes. If the re-map fails to pass legal muster, then the Court itself can re-draw the plans. Under Florida law, the governor does not approve or reject the state House and Senate maps. Upon passage, those go to the Florida attorney general who then presents them directly to the Supreme Court. This process has already occurred, hence the Court’s action in announcing the hearing schedule. Under the congressional plan, it appears that the Republicans will have 14 seats that can be considered safe to the Democrats’ eight. At the very least, this map will yield a Democratic gain of two seats.

KANSAS (current delegation: 4R) – The state House, over the objection of the body’s most conservative members, passed the congressional map and sent it to the state Senate. The main sticking point was moving the Democratic city of Lawrence, home of Kansas University, wholly within the 2nd District (Rep. Lynn Jenkins-R). It is unclear if the Senate will accept the map. Because of the change, the 2nd will become more Democratic, but freshman Rep. Kevin Yoder’s 3rd District gets a bit more Republican. Chances remain strong that the GOP will hold all four of the districts. Should the Senate fail to concur, the process will head to court if the legislative session ends without agreement.

KENTUCKY (current delegation: 4R-2D) – Both houses of the Kentucky legislature passed an incumbent protection map that will likely re-elect the state’s five incumbents standing for re-election (3R-2D) and give the Republicans the inside track to holding retiring GOP Rep. Geoff Davis’ 4th District. The map is basically a “least-change” plan, with no district gaining more than a 1.5% partisan boost for either Democrats or Republicans.

RHODE ISLAND (current delegation: 2D) – Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I) signed the redistricting bill the Democratic legislature sent him last week. The plan increases freshman Rep. David Cicilline’s (D) Democratic voting base. Thus, by process of elimination, Rep. Jim Langevin’s seat becomes a bit more Republican. Both districts, however, will likely continue to send Democrats to Washington for the rest of the decade.

VIRGINIA (current delegation: 8R-3D) – It appears likely that the Virginia primary will move. In order to give the state more time to handle the upcoming litigation over the recently passed congressional map, the state House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to move the congressional primary from June 12 to Aug. 7. The Senate is expected to quickly follow suit. The state’s presidential primary will continue to be held on Super Tuesday, March 6.