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News from the Votemaster

Too Late for a White Knight     Permalink

There has been a lot of speculation in the media of late about what is going to happen if Rick Santorum defeats Mitt Romney in Michigan on Feb. 28. In reality, there will be a lot of moaning and groaning from Republican quarters about how this is a bad thing, but it is unlikely anything concrete will happen until a week later, when 10 states vote on super Tuesday, March 6. If Romney wins only Massachusetts, Vermont, and Virgina (where Gingrich and Santorum aren't on the ballot), panic will break out among party leaders and the cry for a white knight will become deafening. Only it is not going to happen because it is too late. Here is the list of filing deadlines for March and later, including all the caucuses, which usually do not have a filing deadline.

State Delegates Voting Date Type Filing deadline
Connecticut 28 April 24, 2012 Primary March 2, 2012
Washington 43 March 3, 2012 Caucus March 3, 2012
Oregon 28 May 15, 2012 Primary March 6, 2012
Alaska 27 March 6, 2012 Caucus March 6, 2012
Idaho 32 March 6, 2012 Caucus March 6, 2012
North Dakota 28 March 6, 2012 Caucus March 6, 2012
Nebraska 35 May 15, 2012 Primary March 7, 2012
Guam 9 March 10, 2012 Caucus March 10, 2012
Kansas 40 March 10, 2012 Caucus March 10, 2012
Virgin Islands 9 March 10, 2012 Caucus March 10, 2012
Wyoming 29 March 10, 2012 Caucus March 10, 2012
Montana 26 June 5, 2012 Primary March 12, 2012
American Samoa 9 March 13, 2012 Caucus March 13, 2012
Hawaii 20 March 13, 2012 Caucus March 13, 2012
Utah 40 June 26, 2012 Primary March 15, 2012
New Mexico 23 June 5, 2012 Primary March 16, 2012
Missouri 52 March 17, 2012 Caucus March 17, 2012
California 172 June 5, 2012 Primary March 23, 2012
South Dakota 28 June 5, 2012 Primary March 27, 2012
New Jersey 50 June 5, 2012 Primary April 2, 2012
Texas 155 May 29, 2012 Primary ?

If some other candidate jumped in on Feb. 29, the day after the Michigan and Arizona primaries and magically qualified for all the remaining primaries and got all the delegates, he or she would get 883 delegates, far short of the 1144 needed to win the nomination. And such a scenario is completely unrealistic because (1) it takes weeks to collect the signatures to qualify to get on the ballot and (2) the events before April 1 use some form of proportional allocation of delegates, so to get 100% of the delegates from, say, Idaho, the new candidate would have to get 100% of the votes at the caucus, which is pretty unlikely. Realistically, if a candidate with close to 100% name recognition (that's you Mike Huckabee and you Sarah Palin) were to jump in on March 7 and spend two weeks qualifying for the remaining states, the only primaries he or she would make are California, South Dakota, New Jersey, and Texas (whose filing date is up in the air until the court cases about redistricting there have been settled). Even a clean sweep of all those states would yield only 405 delegates, about a third of what is needed.

Of course, if a new candidate emerged and did very well, it is possible that no candidate would have enough delegates to win on the first ballot, in which case all delegates would be freed to vote their consciences on the second ballot and anything could happen. Now consider this arithmetic from the point of view of Huckabee or Palin. You jump into the race on March 7 and work your tail off for 6 months only to have the party leaders anoint someone else in Tampa? Not an attractive proposition.

Another name that has been bandied about as the savior is Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN), who has far less charisma than Mitt Romney (yes, Virginia, that is possible) and whose wife and daughters are known to be against a run. Also a possible candidate is Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who is on record saying he is not ready for the job this year. In reality, there are not a lot of Republicans other than Huckabee and Palin who could become the instant front runner on day 1. So, for better or worse, the field we have now is the field we are going to have.

Even if no candidate has 1144 votes on the first ballot (still an unlikely outcome at this point), the Republicans will not have a brokered convention simply because there are no brokers any more. In the old days, Speaker John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell would get together in a smoke-filled room and pick a candidate. But their choice, Mitt Romney, is already known, and they aren't getting a lot of traction with him. So how could they pull someone out of thin air and expect the party to go along with him or her?

If no candidate gets a majority on the first ballot, no one knows what might happen. There are persistent rumors that some Ron Paul supporters are trying to get elected to the convention as Romney delegates. If they succeed and there is a second ballot, they would be free to vote for Paul or any other candidate he favors from then on. The possibility of such a stealth strategy is very real because in most caucus states, there are precinct, county, congressional district, and state caucuses and anyone at the state caucus can run for RNC delegate. Generally speaking, the people there don't know each other and anyone making a strong (but possibly fake) speech for Romney could be elected to the convention as a Romney delegate. Such a candidate would probably vote for Romney on the first ballot but then do Paul's bidding on subsequent ballots.

In fact, the situation is even worse than that. About 30 states have no law requiring convention delegates to vote for the person they are pledged to, even on the first ballot. A person elected to the RNC as, say, a Romney delegate in March, might have second thoughts about him in August, for example, if polls showed him losing to President Obama in November. If such a delegate voted for someone else, even on the first ballot, there would be no legal sanctions taken against him or her. Normally, one candidate has such an overwhelming lead in delegates that a few faithless delegates don't matter, but this year it could.

Another Republican Debate Tomorrow     Permalink

Tomorrow CNN will host another debate between the four remaining Republican candidates in Mesa Arizona. While Arizona is not hotly contested (Romney is expected to win it due to the substantial Mormon population in northern Arizona), no doubt people in Michigan will be watching, too. It should be interesting to see if Santorum and Romney really go after each other this time. This is the first debate held with Santorum in the lead nationally.

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Previous headlines

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
Jan15 Social Conservatives Agree to Back Santorum
Jan13 Eleventh Commandment Repealed
Jan11 NH: Romney 39%, Paul 23%, Huntsman 17%, Gingrich 9%, Santorum 9%
Jan11 Charlie Cook: Redistricting is Politically Neutral
Jan10 Romney Leads Going into the New Hampshire Primary Today
Jan10 Gingrich Goes Negative in South Carolina
Jan08 Romney Survives Debate Unscathed
Jan08 Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it
Jan05 Bachmann Drops Out
Jan05 Perry Hesitates, but Stays In

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