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article imageOp-Ed: How uncertain is Mitt Romney's GOP nomination for U.S. President?

By Victoria N. Alexander     May 8, 2012 in Politics
Most media reports presume Romney will be the GOP nominee. Ron Paul supporters continue to hope. Are they crazy? Or is the mainstream media under-estimating Paul's chances and the relevance of "Rule #38."
Ron Paul does much better in caucus states than in primary states.
In caucuses, people debate, listen to arguments, and then elect delegates. Caucuses are considered by some to be a better form of electing delegates because decisions made by popular vote (as in primaries) are too easily swayed by the mainstream media and/or campaign funding. Voters in popular elections merely have to fill in a bubble or throw a switch. Voters who caucus, on the other hand, tend to be activists, who are informed on a number of political issues and have done their homework studying on all the candidates. Some major media sources may be painting a negative picture of the caucus process, calling it "arcane." However, even if the process is old fashioned or low tech, it is the epitome of a grassroots approach. Caucuses may represent the one type of political process not dominated by SuperPAC funding at this point.
If Romney currently has at least 703 delegates, as determined by The Real 2012 Delegate Count, he only needs about 441 more delegates to get the nomination before the convention, ending the possibility of a brokered convention, at which Ron Paul would have more than a slim chance of winning the nomination, according to the Paul campaign. (Santorum and Gingrich's departures have hurt Paul's chances of a brokered convention. Perhaps they were politely "asked to leave" by the establishment. When in history have contending candidates bailed so quickly?) There are still 770 delegates left to be decided from states that have not yet held primaries. How likely is it that Romney will take at least 441 of these delegates? Caucuses tend to favor Ron Paul, but there are no more straight caucuses left to be held. All the remaining elections are primaries, but there are different types of primaries. One is a hybrid primary-caucus, some are unbound, some are proportional and some are winner-take-all. Three states are having their elections today: North Carolina, Indiana, and West Virginia.
Of the states that have not yet voted, three have "winner take all" primaries. These are decided by popular vote; the candidate with the most votes gets all the delegates. Based on Romney's performance with the popular vote, he is likely to capture winner-take-all states. They are: California, with 172 delegates; New Jersey, with 50 delegates; and Utah, with 40 delegates. That would give him 262 delegates. He still needs more.
There are seven proportional primary states left to vote, with a total of 370 delegates up for grabs. Proportional states allocate a percentage of delegates based on popular vote. It is safe to assume that Romney will get 50% of these delegates. Adding together the "winner-take-all" and the "proportional" states, that would give Romney 447 delegates, more than enough, even by the safest estimates, to secure the nomination going into the convention. When the media talk about the mathematical certainty of Romney winning, they base their predictions on this kind of analysis.
However California, with its winner-take-all 172 delegates, may not be the strongest state for Romney. Paul's anti-war, pro-gay civil union, and anti-war-on-drugs platforms may make him the more popular candidate in that largely liberal state. Nevertheless, we can assume that in the worst-case scenario for Romney, he is all but guaranteed 90 delegates from the remaining winner-take-all states.
Among the proportional states left to vote, Texas has 155 delegates. Texas is Paul's home state. Again imagining a worst case scenario for Romney, we do not assume that he will win 77 of those votes. Without California and Texas, Romney would have to depend upon winning Indiana, West Virginia, Nebraska and Montana, which have a hybrid caucus/primary, direct election and non-binding primaries, respectively, a total of 138 delegates. If Romney is assured 90 delegates from winner-take-all states, and 300+ delegates from proportional states, and, say, at least 69, from the remainder, that leaves about 459+ delegates virtually guaranteed for Romney, more than the 441 he needs. In all likelihood, he will capture more than 459.
Nevertheless, the number of delegates that Romney has "in the bag" is fairly close to the number he needs to secure 1144 delegates before the convention. Of the states that have already voted, there are some 274 delegates that have not yet been decided. Based on Ron Paul's performance with these kinds of decisions, we might predict that a large percentage of these will go to him, not Romney. Although the numbers reported here may tend to over-estimate Paul's advantages, they may be considered as a corrective to the under-estimations provided in other analyses.
The GOP orthodoxy, as well as the mainstream media, pretends that Ron Paul has zero chance of winning the nomination. This is not precisely true, not mathematically speaking. Many reports, e.g. Fox News, speculate that Paul is only trying to influence the party agenda at this point, not win the nomination at a brokered convention. However, it is hard to imagine any of Paul's supporters voting for Romney (or Obama) or trusting either to make good on campaign promises. It may be the vain hope of the establishment that influencing the Republican party is Paul's only plan. If Paul does not win the GOP nomination, he has the option of a third party run, whether he runs on his own or teams up with Rocky Anderson, Gary Johnson, Buddy Roemer or Jill Stein.
According to Republican National Convention Rule #38, "No delegate or alternate delegate shall be bound by any attempt of any state or Congressional district to impose the unit rule" (RNC Rules). This may mean that states and districts cannot force delegates to vote for a particular candidate: all delegates are unbound until they get to the state conventions, where Paul supporters tend to prevail. Critics of this interpretation of Rule #38 say Rule # 15 makes it clear that Rule #38 only applies to unbound delegates., cited above, as of May 11, 2012, now interprets Rule #38 in a way that favors the Paul campaign, giving Romney only 342 actual bound delegates, Paul 109, and leaving 750 to be decided at state conventions.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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