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News from the Votemaster

Romney Wins Washington, Paul Second (Maybe)     Permalink

In another glitch-filled caucus, Mitt Romney won Washington State yesterday, possibly giving him a bit more momentum leading up to super Tuesday, March 6. With 99% of the vote counted, here are the results:

Candidate Votes Pct
Mitt Romney 15,980 38%
Ron Paul 11,102 25%
Rick Santorum 10,924 24%
Newt Gingrich 4,782 10%

However, it should be noted that Ron Paul's 178-vote edge is not final as not all the votes have been counted in King County and Pierce County. In addition, 2,000 people were turned away in Kennewick in eastern Washington. Consequently, the results could change if and when these problems are solved (although it is hard to solve the problem of people coming to caucus and then being told to go home).

Also of note is that the total number of votes cast is likely to be around 45,000. If we take the number of votes for John McCain in 2008 (1.2 million) and call that the number of Republicans in Washington, the turnout yesterday represents between 3 and 4% of the Republican electorate. This does not indicate much enthusiasm, despite the importance of the caucus.

There have been serious problems at many caucuses and primaries this year. To start with, Iowa "lost" the votes of eight precincts, either due to incompetence or due to the local Republican chairmen not liking the results. Furthermore, the state party announced the wrong winner on election night and didn't fix the results until weeks later. If Rick Santorum had been crowned the winner on election night, he would have gotten far more momentum than he got when the results were corrected weeks later. It snowed in New Hampshire (as it frequently does there in the winter) so some precincts closed down. In Nevada, there were day caucuses and evening caucuses and people showing up for the evening caucus unexpectedly had to sign an affidavit saying they couldn't come to the day caucus for religious reasons, which some Ron Paul supporters refused to sign. Now, in Washington, the votes have not been fully counted hours after the caucuses ended and thousands of Republicans were denied the right to cast their votes due to poor logistics.

All these problems are creating pressure to abolish caucuses altogether and just have primaries in the next cycle. In this context, it is important to realize the difference between a caucus and a primary. Caucuses are run by the parties and staffed by party activists who do this once every four years and barely know the rules. Primaries are run by the state government and staffed by civil servants whose job it is to run elections. They are far more experienced than the party activists. However, changing from caucuses to primaries has financial and political consequences. If a caucus state becomes a primary state, the taxpayers have to foot the bill for running it rather than the state parties. Also, in a caucus, the party running it can determine who can vote whereas in a primary, state law determines who can vote and many states allow independents and even members of the other party to vote in primaries. Many partisans do not like the idea of supporters of the other party determining their candidate. All in all, this election season has been something out of Amateur Hour.

After 10 states vote on Tuesday, we may have a bit more clarity, although mixed results would likely keep the race going for weeks to come.

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Previous headlines

Mar03 Washington State Holds Caucuses Today
Mar03 Maine Senate Field Taking Shape
Feb29 Romney Barely Wins Michigan
Feb29 Olympia Snow Announces Her Retirement
Feb28 Michigan Too Close to Call
Feb28 Kerrey May Run for the Senate in Nebraska
Feb23 Romney Attacks, Santorum Defends, Nothing Much Changes
Feb23 Of Vaginas and Veeps
Feb21 Too Late for a White Knight
Feb21 Another Republican Debate Tomorrow
Feb17 Santorum Leading Romney in Michigan
Feb12 Romney Wins the CPAC Straw Poll
Feb12 Romney Edges Out Paul by 194 Votes in Maine
Feb12 Santorum Leading in Michigan and Nationwide
Feb08 Santorum Wins Big in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado
Feb05 Romney Wins Nevada Caucuses
Feb05 Republican Primary and Caucus Schedule
Feb04 Romney Expected to Win Big at Nevada Caucuses Today
Feb04 Economy is Improving
Feb01 Romney Wins Decisively in Florida
Jan31 Romney Set to Win Big in Florida
Jan31 Santorum Faces Easy Choice Tomorrow
Jan31 Prediction: Florida Will Win Today
Jan27 Romney Takes Off the Gloves in Final Florida Debate
Jan27 Romney Failed to List Foreign Investments on Legal Form
Jan25 Obama Lays Groundwork for a Populist Campaign in State-of-the-Union Speech
Jan24 Romney Releases 2010 Tax Return
Jan24 Role Reversal in the Debate: Romney Attacks, Gingrich Plays Defense
Jan24 Fred Thompson Endorses Newt Gingrich
Jan22 Gingrich Crushes Romney in South Carolina
Jan20 Perry Drops Out and Endorses Gingrich
Jan20 Gingrich Surging in South Carolina
Jan20 Gingrich's Second Wife Attacks Him
Jan20 Romney Loses His Win in Iowa
Jan20 Romney Reported to Have Millions of Dollars in the Cayman Islands
Jan20 The Final Four Take Off the Gloves in the Last Debate before the South Carolina Primary
Jan17 Hard-Hitting Debate in South Carolina Changes Nothing
Jan16 Huntsman Expected to Drop Out Today and Endorse Romney
Jan16 Why is the Republican Field So Weak?
Jan16 South Carolina Debate Tonight