FROM THE LAKES
TO THE DESERT
What to look for as Michigan and
Arizona hold Presidential Primaries
Monday, February 27, 2012
by Richard E. Berg-Andersson
This piece will be (mercifully- or so, I am sure, to at least most of this site's readers!) short and- well, mostly- to the point.
I am- to start with- concentrating on how various potential outcomes come Tuesday night might affect former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as he- or so I myself opined back on 9 February last- is still the "front runner" (for even [Rick] Santorum is still "coming from behind") and there has been nothing [in the results from the three GOP delegate selection events held on Tuesday 7 February] to really derail the (rightly or wrongly) perceived eventuality of Romney's being the nominee.
There are three possible scenarios for Governor Romney (all of which are rather obvious, but I'll here outline them anyway!):
1. Romney wins both Primaries: This, of course, is Romney's "best case scenario". The Arizona Republican Presidential Primary is 'Winner Take All', while the Michigan Presidential Primary is 'Winner Take Most'. Romney, if only for the moment, has a comfortable lead in "hard count"ed (that is, already formally pledged or bound) National Convention delegates [73 to Speaker Gingrich's 29, per this website's own such count (Senator Santorum still has only the formal pledges of the 3 delegates he picked up in the Nevada caucuses back on 4 February: please remember that the caucuses in which he came in first have yet to actually choose and/or pledge National Convention delegates and the Missouri Primary [which Santorum also won] was non-binding)] and, even where one looks at this website's so-called "soft" count (which is primarily intended to give a fair picture of just where each candidate stands- that is: a "snapshot" of the current situation- as the presidential nomination race proceeds apace [after all: "It's the Delegates, Stupid!" ;-)]), Romney's 107 projected is well ahead of the 43 at which both Gingrich and Santorum are virtually "tied" at this point (again, keeping in mind that this is but an estimate of relative potential delegate strength per presidential contender so far: a "tool" for purposes of analysis, rather than an end in and of itself).
In all: 59 total National Conventions delegates are up for grabs this coming Tuesday and, while that doesn't seem like all that much- certainly as compared to the more than 1,100 needed in order to gain the 2012 Republican presidential nomination- Romney so padding his "lead" with, say, some 40 (give or take) of these would then put him in much the same position Senator John McCain of Arizona- the eventual 2008 GOP presidential nominee- was himself in going into the first Tuesday in March four years ago (and, after the Republican contests of that date- 4 March 2008- McCain was able to have claimed the nomination, especially when his last remaining rival, former Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, dropped out shortly thereafter): please note I'm not at all here suggesting that either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum would be- assuming, if only for the moment, a Romney "double win" this 28 February- dropping out of the race on, say, 7 or 8 March this time round (though one of them might then be forced to do so, depending on how 6 March itself has played out!), just that such a Romney "double" would set this year's first Tuesday in March up to itself set up something of a "war of attrition" thereafter (think '1984 Democrats' with Romney playing "Walter Mondale" and the leading- where not also surviving- 'anti-Romney' contender playing "Gary Hart" in this particular "movie" [Ron Paul playing the "Jesse Jackson" role here]).
2. Romney loses both Primaries: The "worst case scenario" for Romney: his "front runner" status would then clearly be gone and the "war of attrition" will then already be underway, even before 'Super Tuesday' 6 March. The best that could happen to Romney in this scenario would be if the 'anti-Romney' candidates- Gingrich and Santorum- split the two 28 February Primaries (keeping either from gaining all that much in terms of National Convention delegates); obviously, then, the same 'anti-Romney' candidate (whether Gingrich or Santorum) winning both Arizona and Michigan would be a big blow to Romney (merely add 40-something delegates to 43 and then compare it to Romney's 107- as so far is the estimate/projection in our own "soft count"- and the resultant effect is altogether obvious!)
3. Romney wins either Arizona or Michigan (but not both): Winning Arizona would be better (despite Michigan being Romney's own home State) because the victor in Arizona doesn't have to share any of its 29 delegates (the likelihood that at least some Congressional District delegates in Michigan won't be won by someone other than the Statewide winner is slim to none) but a win is a win is a win in any event-- especially as it means only one of the two 'anti-Romney' conservatives can win the other Primary...
speaking of which:
besides seeing what the fate of Mitt Romney's "front runner" status might be come this Tuesday, there is also the proverbial "game within the game" come 28 February:
for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (regardless of whether either wins one or both of the two Presidential Primaries that day) are still in a contest of their own to see which one might yet emerge as the 'anti-Romney' presidential contender. One of these two winning both 28 February Primaries clearly puts that very contender into this position going into 'Super Tuesday' (the same would be the case for the one of these two who wins but one of said Primaries [but only so long as former Governor Romney wins the other one]). If Gingrich and Santorum do each win one of this coming Tuesday's Primaries, then we are in that same pre-6 March "war of attrition" described under scenario 2 as regards Romney's own contender status already described above!
Finally, note that I- up till now- have left out Congressman Ron Paul in all this: I still hold to the notion that Congressman Paul primarily represents a minority 'libertarian' faction (or factions, as there are various gradations of such Libertarianism) within the Republican Party as a whole. As was the case in 2008, he can stay in the presidential nomination race all the way to the Republican National Convention on this basis alone (so long as both money and stamina are forthcoming!).
The "soft count" of 'The Green Papers' shows that he has had a fair amount of (again, albeit minority [as compared to the GOP as a whole]) support so far- 35 delegates to, as I've said, 43 apiece for Gingrich and Santorum; Congressman Paul also has 8 "hard count"ed (again, already pledged/bound) National Convention delegates (5 from the Nevada caucuses and 3 he won in New Hampshire's Primary). The only place in which either a Presidential Primary or caucus- with or without "straw poll", binding or not- has already been held in which Paul failed to gain at least two-digit percentages of the vote was in Florida back on 31 January.
Accepting the Paul percentage of the vote in each of 8 such contests (Florida here excepted) as a fair sampling of the Republican presidential preference so far, he has gained an average of 20 percent of support in such contests (which is just about the maximum of what one would have expected going in). But he still- much like Santorum (although Santorum seemingly has a a rather good chance of getting this particular "monkey off his own back" come this Tuesday)- seems to do noticeably better in caucuses than in Primaries (with the notable exception of New Hampshire, in which Independents were specifically permitted to vote, while the very motto of the Granite State- 'Live Free or Die'- itself evinces a rather strong Libertarian streak historically).
Simply put: if Congressman Paul truly wants to advance his presidential candidacy beyond his merely being this "poster child" for within-Grand Old Party Libertarianism, he has to- at some point- show he can win...
and this is not happening this Tuesday... yet it will have to begin to show itself on Paul's own behalf as we go through the Republican delegate selection events throughout March (a lot of which will have to do with whether the candidacy of either Gingrich or Santorum can even survive that very month [for I have a gut feeling that- should one of these 'anti-Romney' conservatives be forced to withdraw- at least some of their support will go to Ron Paul rather than the remaining 'anti-Romney' contender (although, perhaps strangely, no little of it will also go to Romney himself!): the nomination race dynamics for Congressman Paul would then- but only in such a case- become at least somewhat more favorable]...
in any event, however: we are still a long, long way from such clarity in the GOP nomination race as we might begin to see [assuming it is, by then, not already seen] by, say, around a month after this very piece has been posted!)