Category Archives: Election Analysis

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.

Maryland Congressional Races Today

With most political attention focused on the Wisconsin, Maryland, and District of Columbia presidential primaries, voters from both parties go to the polls in Maryland to also choose congressional nominees. The only race of significance is the newly constructed 6th District, a western Maryland seat that has sent Republican Roscoe Bartlett (R) to Congress for the past 20 years. The district was radically redrawn during the redistricting process for purposes of electing a Democrat instead of Bartlett, but the outcome of the party primary may be a surprise.

Rob Garagiola, the state Senate majority leader, had eyes on the new 6th for himself, and drew the district per his own specifications. But it might not be enough for him to clinch even the Democratic nomination. Businessman John Delaney, who had spent over $1.6 million on the primary race prior to the March 14 pre-primary financial disclosure report (he loaned $1.25 million to his campaign), is making a strong outsider bid to wrest the nomination away from the Annapolis political insider. Garagiola had spent $409,000 during the same period. Delaney has the advantage in advertising and certainly possesses momentum, but Garagiola has greater support from groups that traditionally run strong voter turnout operations, and such often proves to be the determining factor in a low turnout election.

On the Republican side, despite having seven opponents, including a state senator and delegate, Rep. Bartlett is expected to win a convincing nomination victory. The real test for the 85-year-old congressional veteran will come in the general election.

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.

Conflicting Polls in Ohio, Florida Senate Races

New polls are in the public domain from Ohio and Florida with some very divergent results, particularly relating to Ohio.

Within the same timing realm, Quinnipiac University and Rasmussen Reports sampled Ohio voters and questioned them about the upcoming US Senate race between first term incumbent Sherrod Brown (D) and newly chosen Republican nominee Josh Mandel, the current state treasurer. Quinnipiac conducted their survey during the March 20-26 period and interviewed 1,246 registered Ohio voters. Rasmussen launched a one-day poll, March 26, and questioned 500 likely voters. Quinnipiac gathers its responses through live telephone interviews. Rasmussen Reports employs an automated system.

Therefore, the two methodologies are quite different. Many polling analysts question Quinnipiac’s long sampling period, while believing Rasmussen is not in the field long enough. Most pollsters attempt to complete their surveys in three calling days. This allows for a compact “three-day track,” which can help detect sudden movement relating to particular happenings. Both pollsters weight their answers to bring samples in line with demographic complexion, political party disposition, and voting trend history. Yet, as you will see, their results are diametrically different.

The latest Q-Poll shows Brown leading Mandel 46-36 percent, which is similar to their Feb. 7-12 poll that posted the incumbent to a 48-35 percent advantage. But Rasmussen Reports reveals a totally different finding, placing the two candidates in a 43-43 percent tie. Several other polls have shown this race to be close, but most have reported margins closer to the Q-Poll. Since both candidates are well-funded and Ohio will be such a battleground for the presidential election, expect this race to be close by Election Day regardless of how the two candidates are positioned today.

In Florida, after a series of polls revealed the race between Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-FL-14) to be close, Quinnipiac’s March 20-26 poll (1,228 registered Florida voters) is posting the Democrat to a 44-36 percent lead. This is a seven-point swing in Nelson’s favor when compared to the January Q-Poll (Jan. 4-8; 1,412 registered Florida voters) that gave the senator only a one-point lead, 41-40 percent.

There are a couple of reasons explaining the swing. First, the January Q-Poll sampling universe was more favorable to Republicans. In that sample, 35.1 percent of the respondents self-identified as being members of the GOP, versus only 26.6 percent saying they were Democrats. The remainder, 38.1 percent, claimed to be Independents or “other.” The March sample was more in the Democrats’ favor. In this group, 31.0 percent described themselves as Republicans and 31.9 percent as Democrats. Independents and others comprised 40.3 percent of the respondent pool. The actual breakdown of Florida registered voters is 36.1 percent Republican; 40.5 percent Democrat; and 23.3 percent Independent and “Other.”

But the sample pool is only one reason why Nelson may be gaining support. Former interim Sen. George LeMieux, opposing Mack in the Republican primary, is on television and radio with attack ads, attempting to distinguish Rep. Mack from his father, former Sen. Connie Mack III (R), and likening the former to renegade actor Charlie Sheen because of reported bar fights in the younger Mack’s past and episodes of what the LeMieux ads call the congressman’s “road rage.” The swing toward Nelson in the latest Q-Poll can be at least partially attributed to the LeMieux ads.

As we know, a poll is merely a snapshot of the electorate at a particular time and many times anomaly results do occur. To get the best understanding of campaign movement, it is important to consider many polls over a long period of time. What is important is the trend toward election day, and not necessarily the individual numbers themselves.

Since there have already been several inconsistencies in both of these states, we can reasonably expect greater movement in the coming months as the Nov. 6 election nears. Count on both the Ohio and Florida Senate races being among the most interesting in the country.

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.

Energy Policy and Presidential Politics

The energy issue, as it often does in national elections, will again be front and center in the 2012 presidential election, especially with gas prices assured to be at an all-time high. The Gallup organization just released a report about Americans’ attitudes and impressions of energy-related issues. The results suggest a movement toward the Republican position of increasing domestic energy production and reveals President Obama to be on the short side of the Keystone Pipeline controversy.

In relation to Keystone, by a margin of 57-29 percent, the respondents favored building the oil transport structure that would begin in Canada and extend to refineries in Montana, Nebraska and Oklahoma, and export terminals along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Even a plurality of self-identified Democrats (44-38 percent) support the pipeline construction.

But the swing within the electorate, and a potential electoral problem for the President, is decidedly toward energy production versus concern for the environment. For only the second sustained time since 2001, more people (47-44 percent) favored energy development than environmental protection. The swing in this direction has been marked since 2001. Today, the gap among Republicans on this question has swung 29 points in favor of production. Independents have gone from a +24 for environment to just a +8. Even Democrats have moved 10 points closer to development from a +32 pro-environment gap in 2001 to a +22 today. Continuing these trends could give the GOP a boost as the November election draws near.

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.