Monday, March 19, 2012

Romney Rolls On in Puerto Rico - What Would Puerto Rican Statehood Mean?, What a Mess in Missouri

The Romney Train is On the Rails
Some advise to Rick Santorum - if you are going to invest scarce primary campaign resources in campaigning in US territory, you might try to find a better sales pitch than "all of you need to learn better English."

Mitt Romney delivered a thumping to Santorum in Puerto Rico, scoring over 80% of the vote.  Now, even the most devoted Santorum supporter knew that Right-Wing Rick had no shot on the liberal island, but as recently as a week ago, the Santorum campaign had hoped to hold Romney to under 50% of the vote, allowing Santorum to score at least a few of the 20 delegates at stake.

It was not to be.

Romney appears poised to win Illinois decisively on Tuesday, with Santorum favored to score a similarly strong victory in Louisiana on Saturday.

And thus continues the perfect geographic pattern that we have seen in this election - Romney dominating the Northeast, more liberal mid-west and Mormon-dominated western states with Santorum taking the deep south and the center of the country.

This pattern would all but assure a Romney victory but would drag the campaign out until June when Romney is likely to vault over the 1,144 delegate finish line with winner-take-all victories in California and New Jersey on June 5th.

As of today (excluding RNC delegates who are unbound), my tally is as follows:
Romney - 466 (51%)
Santorum - 227
Gingrich - 150
Paul - 67
Perry - 3
Huntsman - 2

Romney remains over the 50% mark, which is critical for a first-ballot victory.  And the landscape gets more friendly to him from here.

Illinois next Tuesday has 69 delegates that should go disproportionately to Romney
Santorum certainly figures to fare well in the proportional primary in Louisiana and its 46 delegates

The next round after that moves to Winner-Take-All events in Wisconsin (42 delegates), Maryland (37 delegates) and DC (19 delegates) on April 3rd.  Of those 3, Santorum only really has a shot in Wisconsin and could well lose all three.

April 24th will be even uglier for Santorum with events in New York (95 delegates), Pennsylvania (72 delegates), Connecticut (28 delegates), Rhode Island (19 delegates) and Delaware (17 delegates).  Santorum should win Pennsylvania, but will likely lose all the rest.  Delaware is winner-take-all and the remainder are proportional.

Assuming the best case for Santorum - that he wins Louisiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and loses the rest of the races and assuming a 50%/30%/20% delegate split in a three way race for proportional races, on April 24th, the count would look something like this:
Romney - 680 Delegates
Santorum - 391 Delegates
All Others - 288 Delegates
Note: My numbers exclude Missouri - which is a complete mess, more on that later.

Again, Romney with a big lead and slightly more than half the total, but still a long way from 1,144. 

Romney would then have to plow through a very uncomfortable May that involves contests in North Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Nebraska, Oregon, Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas.  Of those, only Oregon looks friendly to Romney, although he might have a shot in some of the more diverse states like North Carolina and Texas.

Assuming he wins only 30% of the delegates in the month of May (all of the May contests are proportional), on top of my April projection, he would win an additional 129 delegates and be at 809.

Romney would then enter his June firewall which includes contests in California, New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico and Utah with CA, NJ and UT being winner-take-all.  Even assuming Santorum found a way to win in Montana and South Dakota (which is by no means a lock), if Romney takes 30% of the delegates in those contests, 50% of the delegates in New Mexico and wins the three winner-take-all states, that yields him 290 additional delegates, putting his total at 1,099.

Romney would then need only 45 of the 168 or so RNC delegates to put him over the top.  He has 25 that have at least tacitly committed to him.

So, it still appears highly likely that Romney will get the nod, but you can see the challenge in a mostly proportional system in a multi-way race of getting to 1 vote more than 50%.

One for Puerto Rican Statehood
Since it became a U.S. Territory in 1917, every U.S. President has backed "self-determination" - the right of the territory to decide whether it would like to leave the United States, remain a territory or become a state.

Puerto Rico has voted several times on this issue, always choosing to remain a territory.  But each time a vote is held, it gets a little closer to picking statehood.

Statehood would mean that Puerto Rico would have to pay federal income taxes from which it is currently excluded but would also give it 2 Senators, likely 5 Congressmen and 7 Electoral Votes.  It is highly likely that most of these votes would go Democratic.

The statehood question is back on the ballot in Puerto Rico in November and many believe, as a new generation of voters comes of age there, that Puerto Rico will finally choose statehood.

Now, despite the stated policy of past and present U.S. Presidents, passage of the ballot initiative does not necessarily guarantee Puerto Rican statehood.  An act of Congress, signed by the President would still be required.

Even though it would be to their short-term detriment, Republicans would be wise to embrace Puerto Rican statehood if voters there approve it.  Denying Democracy to a generation of Hispanic American citizens would be poor politics indeed.

The Missouri Train Wreck
What a convoluted mess Missouri is.  First, they had a "beauty contest" primary, which didn't count for anything other than show (and spent a bunch of tax payer money.)  Next, they had caucuses last Saturday, but did not conduct a straw poll and didn't even select delegates to the national convention.  Instead, they selected delegates to the state convention, who in turn will select delegates to the national convention next month.

Confused yet?  I know I am.

And nobody has any clue where those national delegates will eventually go, although one presumes that Rick Santorum will do pretty well, based on the primary results.

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