Wednesday, March 07, 2012
2012 GOP Update 3-6-12-Romney Squeaks Along-Santorum Strong in Key States-Gingrich and Paul Footnotes-A Two M-n Race-Analysis with Note on MA
Two Frontrunners - Romney and Santorum - image CNN
Eleven States weighed in on the Republican Nominating Process yesterday – Romney, as of the latest vote totals, has added 7 states, Santorum added 3 and Gingrich won his home state of Georgia. In the States voting Romney, two are decisive wins: Massachusetts and Idaho, with 98% reporting in, Romney took 72% of the Vote in Massachusetts, and 61% of the vote with 100% reporting in Idaho. (See full results at http://elections.nytims.com/2012/primaries/calendar) In Massachusetts, with low voter turnout, Santorum did best in Western Massachusetts (See county by county map) , with the heavier populated areas from Worcester eastward, with the exception of Bristol County which includes the fishing port of New Bedford. Romney took 72% of the vote in the Bay State, despite exit polls indicating a majority of those voting felt Romney’s Health Care Mandate went too far. Santorum finished second, with 12.1%, Paul: 9.6% and Gingrich: 4.6% In Idaho, Romney won with 61% of the vote, with Santorum edging out Paul by a slight margin or second, Gingrich captured 2.1% of the votes. (All primary voter statistics source: New York Times)
Alaska, with 96% reporting: Romney, 32.6%, Santorum, 29%, Paul 24% and Gingrich at 14.2%, a 4 point victory for Romney. Vermont with 93% reporting: Romney 39.8%, Ron Paul, second with 25.4%, Santorum: 23.7% and Gingrich 8.1%. Romney did slightly better in Virginia, taking 59.5% of the vote, to Ron Paul’s 40.5% of the vote, however, the balance of the candidates, although submitting the required number of signatures, failed to qualify due to Virginia State rules. This was the largest percentage of the vote captured by Paul to date, much of which can be attributed to a protest vote as one does not see Virginia as a strong Libertarian or moderate state.
In Wyoming, with 26% reporting, Romney has a 55% lead to Santorum 30.5% of the vote. Paul 2.5% and a whopping “others” have bested Paul by 11.4%.
The Buckeye State of Ohio – considered the biggest prize of the day, with 99% reporting, shows a squeaker for Mitt Romney at 38% to Santorum’s 37%. Rick Perry and John Hunstman registered insignificant numbers, (These candidates also appeared on ballots in other states such as Massachusetts.) Gingrich totaled 14.6% and Ron Paul: 9.3%. The New York Times site has Oklahoma in a slightly lighter shade of blue; (Blue for Romney) as it appears the margin has not yet been decisive enough to fully declare Romney the winner. The Ohio win for Romney would be lackluster, and similar to the win in neighboring Michigan, where he bested Santorum by outspending the Pennsylvania native in advertising, all negative.
In case of point brought up in a CNN panel last evening: Romney has, to date, won states where he heavily attacked his competition, through either his campaign or his PAC. This gives rise to the question: if Romney were to campaign on solely the issues, would he have pulled out wins in any states? His campaign even ran negative ads in Massachusetts, which is normally given up by the GOP and those competing in the state for General Election as “Safe Democrat” – which has continued to be a tactical error, considering the majority of the electorate is unenrolled. (See CNN Video Below)
Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia with 47.7% of the vote, Romney came in second with 25.7%, Santorum third at 19.6, and Ron Paul at 6.5 (others (see above) also won a slight percentage of the vote). This was the only state of the 11 that Gingrich won, and did not place 3rd or 4th with Ron Paul, making the argument for a continued stay in the race appear to hold little standing. Going forward into the balance of March it would be difficult to fathom with those states on the slate (Southern, Midwest, and the islands including Hawaii) Gingrich pulling out nothing more than bragging rights if he wins one or two of the states – and that is a big if.
Santorum pulled three states (and one might be tempted to Count Ohio, given the squeaker it was for Romney), North Dakota: 39.7% with Ron Paul in second, Romney 3rd and Gingrich a distant 4th. In Oklahoma (a preview of Texas), Santorum won by 33.3%, Romney at 28%, Gingrich at 27.5% and Ron Paul again registering in single digits, along with “others”. Finally, Tennessee delivered for Santorum, with 37.3% to Romney’s 28%. Gingrich placed 3rd with 24% and Paul again amassed that 9% of the vote.
Overall, the results show a front-runner in delegates and states own, who has not, at this late date, sold himself as the nominee – he fails to connect to the all-important Blue Collar, Independent and yes, Conservative base of the party- all elements necessary to win a national election. This is especially true in the states he won by a narrow margin or lost entirely, specifically those in the Middle and Western sections of the nation which hold what’s left of the manufacturing jobs in the country as well as, energy (oil and natural gas), and agriculture.
What the results do show is that, two candidates, Santorum and Gingrich, are cut from the same legislative cloth, and hold similar records (granted Gingrich was the Speaker of the House, while Santorum was the Majority Whip in the Senate), they are appealing to the same conservative base. One can Monday morning quarterback (always an assumption which, anyone knows….), and understand that the results of Super Tuesday would have been vastly different had Gingrich not been in the race: Romney would have won Massachusetts and Virginia no doubt, but, would have taken Vermont, Alaska and Ohio.
In the majority of states, however, Gingrich failed to capture enough votes to register, and Paul must understand at some point, that his delegate strategy simply will not work. One has to ponder, what both Gingrich and Paul will do with their delegates once this does go to the convention. In most cases the delegates are released either at large (to make their own choice) or released to another candidate.
Of note however, in a year that is highly reminiscent of the 1980 race between Ronald Reagan (much despised at the time by the establishment GOP and branded as too conservative) and Bush Sr. (the Establishment Choice – Bush Sr. did not give up the hunt until the end of May of that year. In addition there was much talk amongst the beltway of the time and the GOP establishment of a brokered convention.
This is a case of those that want to rule, finding that they are outflanked by those who they think they rule over, the rank and file voters, who are obviously not enamored of the establishment candidate (Romney), while Santorum resonates across all lines. Although painted as some sort of religious nut by the press, (as Reagan was constantly portrayed as a clown and far too socially conservative to win a general election), he is the one candidate that does carry those voters who are pivotal in winning a general. In the final analysis Romney, although the choice of the establishment, given the data to date, he would not be able to win in a general election against the President. Should Romney run of funds, (and that is nearing given the calls begging for more cash to continue), and not be able to best his contenders by beating them with negative ads that are borderline at best, and outright fabrications at worst (his PAC), he would again, have to rely solely on his personality and his ability to connect to the voter – to purloin a title form a favorite movie – Romney would be “Gone In 60 seconds”. In fact, if he had not used the force of his almighty horde of cash, he would not have won or come close to winning in every state he has, with perhaps the exception of Massachusetts, where the moderates are less conservative than most Democrats!
The race will continue regardless, and it appears that there is still time for one front-runner to emerge, depending on the results.
The delegate count by State win (does not include Super Delegates) Romney: 372, Santorum, 177, Newt Gingrich 110, and finally Ron Paul, with 49 (Based on the delegate count, not including super delegates (those that endorse a candidate and what is known as the establishment GOP) or those delegates not yet allocated in the contest at the NYTimes http: //electiosn.nytimes.com/2012/primaries/delegates)
The total to win: 1144, the total left to allocate: 1541 – It is, as of this date, either Santorum’s or Romney’s road to the nomination. It is difficult at this date, to see Gingrich capturing enough delegates in the remaining states to mount any type of a comeback, despite the fact that there are some heavy southern states coming up. In addition one cannot see Romney capturing the southern states given his performance to date (Florida is a larger version of New York and Massachusetts, and therefore, honestly, only holds that title by virtue of Geography). Ron Paul, well, he may pick up another delegate her or there, with no clear reasoning other than to bring awareness to the Federal Deficit.
What the primaries have told us to date, is that Romney is at best a weak candidate and at worst a regional candidate, Santorum holds the most important swing states, Gingrich is also a marginal candidate, and Ron Paul is still Ron Paul.
Keep the popcorn in the cupboard, and get ready for the rest of the month of March, possibly April and most likely into May before either Romney or Santorum becomes the clear front runner and the dust has settled.
Personal note: As a resident of the Bay State that supports Rick Santorum’s candidacy based on the fact that he has the best economic plan (which, begs the question, why does the media find only those who stress social issues first as a reason for voting Santorum? The plausible answer: the media wants Santorum out of the race simply because Obama would prefer to run against Mitt Romney. ) In watching the returns come in, it was not victory (which would have been sweet), rather the necessary 15% of the vote that would have given Rick Santorum delegates from the Bay State. It is matter of pride (which goeth before a fall) to reside in Western Massachusetts, where had the balance of the state mirrored the results, Santorum would have pulled the delegates from Romney’s home state. It has led to the conclusion, which has been a conclusion for many years, over different issues (mainly taxes), that Western Massachustts should secede from the Bay State, establishing its own statehood and giving the nation 51 of the 57 states necessary to vindicate President Obama’s knowledge of geography. (He may have been counting the territory which is the only logical reason for noting 57 states.)
There was a Santorum Grassroots campaign on the ground in Massachusetts who worked tirelessly, and although the results in the Bay State were not what was hoped for, they are in place ready for the general election, which, given history, the nominee should be determined by May.