Republican Delegate Counts: March 15
Super Tuesday and the subsequent March 10 and 13 primaries and caucuses clarified one thing: it’s now a two-man race.
Past Stampeding Elephants articles, going back to last May, focused on the Republican field. In that first iteration, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was in first place, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in eighth, and Representative Ron Paul (R-Lake Jackson, TX) in ninth. Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) did not break the one percent threshold on Intrade to appear in our rankings until our January 5 article, when he debuted in third place.
Now, from an ever-changing field of nine candidates, only two remain, and that’s not a field. Instead, this new version of the series will focus on the delegate math, and the election prospects of Romney, NotRomney, and NotNotRomney, based on Real Clear Politics polling averages, Intrade odds, and head-to-head polling data with President Barack Obama.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
Romney’s Real Clear Politics polling average this week dropped four points to 34 percent, but he still holds a five-point lead over Santorum. On Intrade, he’s holding at an 87 percent chance, unchanged from last week. He has 495 delegates, or 43 percent of the necessary total to clinch the nomination. (Delegate count estimates are from The New York Times via the Associated Press.) He loses to President Obama 48–44 in RCP polling averages for the last nine days.
Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Santorum improved in both RCP weekly polling averages (29 percent, up three points) and on Intrade (five percent chance of securing the nomination, up one point). Still, a one-in-twenty chance is nothing to write home about. He has an estimated 252 delegates (22 percent of the needed total), or just about half of the number estimated for Romney. He loses to President Obama 50–42 in averaged polls.
As of late last night, Jeb Bush and Ron Paul are tied with just under two percent on Intrade. More about their chances after the cut.
This is clearly Romney’s nomination, barring some unforseen disaster. Let’s examine some delegate math. According to the Associated Press estimates, there are 2,286 delegates. That means a majority on the first ballot would require a candidate to have 1,144 delegates. As of today, 928 delegates have been allocated and 1,358 delegates are left.
Romney has 495 delegates, so he needs 48 percent of the remaining available delegates to secure a first-ballot nomination. He has obtained 54 percent of the available delegates so far, so even if he falls some off the pace he has an excellent chance.
Santorum has 252 delegates, so he needs two-thirds of the remaining available delegates to secure a first-ballot nomination. He has 27 percent of the delegates so far, and he has maintained that pace throughout the process, even with states favorable to him in the Midwest and South already in his pocket. Many of the remaining states with large delegate allocations (Illinois, New York, California) will be tough sledding for him, while Texas should give him a boost. His path to the nomination is not impossible, but it does almost certainly run through a convention that extends to multiple ballots.
It’s nearly impossible for Gingrich and Paul at this point: Gingrich would need to get three-quarters of the remaining available delegates and Paul would need a ridiculous 81 percent. Neither outcome is at all likely. Their main role would be to deny a nomination to Romney on the first ballot.
If a candidate does not secure the nomination on the first ballot, then it’s called a “brokered convention”. The committed delegates are released and may vote for whom they wish. This used to be the norm, but has not happened to Democrats since 1952 (when Adlai Stevenson was awarded the nomination, having been drafted at the convention and elected on the third ballot) or Republicans since 1948 (Thomas Dewey was also elected on a third ballot). Most political junkies have surmised that in the age of television, a brokered convention is about as undesirable as global thermonuclear war.
There are 26 political units left until the last delegate selection in Utah June 26. The Republican National Convention begins in Tampa August 27. If, through some misadventure, Romney does not have 1,144 delegates securely in his camp, one can be sure the two months between the last delegate selection and the convention will be filled with the deal-making necessary to ensure someone will prevail on the first ballot, if for no other reason than to avoid an unscripted television spectacle. Rick Santorum can propose that teleprompters be banned:
I’ve always believed that when you run for President of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a teleprompter, because all you’re doing is reading someone else’s words to people.
One wonders if Santorum’s delegates will force through a rules amendment that bans the use of teleprompters by the eventual Republican nominee. That would be appointment television.
- Gingrich’s Path to the Nomination(theamericancommonwealth.com)
- Memo: Rick Santorum campaign seeks contested convention, says Mitt Romney delegate edge overstated(dailykos.com)
- Gingrich’s Last Stand?(logarchism.com)
- The 2012 Republican Primary Field: March 8, 2012(logarchism.com)
- US 2012 Election and InTrade Predictions(nextbigfuture.com)
- Reminder: Mitt Romney Probably Won More Delegates Yesterday(reason.com)
- Romney matches Santorum’s gains in delegates(goerie.com)
- Cue the Anti-Romney Chorus(carsonjfbruno.wordpress.com)
- Santorum is Celebrating a Double Victory in Alabama and Mississippi(socyberty.com)