Category Archives: Republican Primary Race

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.