Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Newt's Notions

It appears that Mitt Romney has got the Republican nomination almost sewn up.  Santorum has done better than expected--won a bunch of states, even in Gingrich's South--but he doesn't have the money, organizaton or support to finish on top.

It does make one wonder how things would have turned out if it had been Romney versus Santorum alone.  It's too late now.  Even if Gingrich dropped out, I'd guess a plurality of his votes would go to Santorum, but a fair amount would go to Romney and a decent chunk to Paul, so Romney would still win most of the big all-or-nothing states.

Still, Santorum fans are wondering why won't Gingrich quit and clear the way?  Gingrich is running out of money and popularity.  What's the point?

First, I'd guess he enjoys it. He's in the spotlight again, speaking his mind and having a good time--does he have something better to do?.  Second, it wasn't that long ago he made a comeback and seemed to be in the lead.  It can be hard to give it up when you were so close.  Third, he seems to despise Romney and perhaps hopes he can still mess with him (even if his quitting might seem worse for Romney).  But I think most of all, in the back of his mind, he hopes if he can just stick around, maybe there'll be a brokered convention.  And then, perhaps, Romney and Santorum will hate each other so much that Gingrich can be the compromise candidate who saves the day--or at least make a deal that gets him something.  Not plausible, but a guy can dream.

PS  I heard that Republican rules might prevent Gingrich, who hasn't won enough states, from taking the conventtion.  If so, I can only ask why would Republicans choose to write such suffocating rules?  I'd guess there's some way around them if the party got stuck with a candidate who was in trouble, for instance.


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

If Gingrich drops out, it becomes even more certain that Romney will have 1144 delegates before the convention. Even if Santorum gets more of Gingrich's votes in coming primaries (especially Texas), Romney has a massive lead and wins even if he gets less than 50% of all the remaining delegates. So oddly enough, as long as Gingrich/Santorum (and Paul) together take more delegates away from Romney than Santorum (and Paul) alone, Gingrich's chances are slightly better if he stays in the race.

I've heard about the Republican rule, but I think that just means Gingrich could not win on the first round, even if Santorum and Paul inexplicably pledged their delegates to Gingrich.

After the first round, there has been talk of drafting someone completely out of the race, like Chris Christie. But that would be so manifestly unfair, it can't possibly happen.

8:05 AM, March 21, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But that would be so manifestly unfair, it can't possibly happen."

I think the Republicans would be the first to say its not about fairness (to the candidates at least), its about winning. That being said, I don't think a new candidate would help them win and basically things are as folks said they would be back in early January- Romney is presumptive nominee though his opponents have done a good job for the time being of making him look unattractive to the base though like liberal women voters in 08- its hard to think that these voters won't fall in line once there is a nominee (unless Newt/Rick/Ron opt for 3d party which is highly unlikely unless it gets (stays?) really ugly and personal).

Probably where Newt et al have hurt Romney is in making him take positions to defend himself to the base which might be less attractive to the swing voters in the fall. Although, the way this campaign has gone, I think this will be distant history in the fall unless the Republican catfight continues except the idea that "Mitt is weak" might be remembered as the big take away.

8:19 AM, March 21, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ken Cuccinelli nailed this the other day. The main motivator is Obamacare, and Romney can't parse his way out of that. He loses 5 percent to 10 percent because of that. Does he win or lose? Don't know, but certainly it's harder. No argument from me that the Republicans are, if not idiots, ineffectual.

3:35 PM, March 21, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The irony is all the stuff that's hurting him in the primaries will work in his favor in the general. Everything that makes him look moderate will play to the large center that he needs to win, even Romneycare. The only question is will the base stay home, and I just can't believe given the choice between Romney and Obama that they won't show up.

4:28 PM, March 21, 2012  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

I would divide Romney successes into four tiers:

Tier 1: After all the primaries are complete -- which is something like two months before the convention -- it becomes public knowledge that Romney has a majority of all delegates.

Note that this requires that he get somewhat more than 50% of delegates awarded in primaries and caucuses, because there are superdelegates and other such sleeper rules.

Tier 2: After the primaries are all over, Romney does not have public pledges from a majority of delegates. On the first ballot at the convention, he wins a majority of the votes and is nominated.

This is exactly what happened to Ford in 1976.

Tier 3: Romney doesn't have a majority before the convention. On the first ballot he receives between 45% and 50% of the votes.

My prediction is that if this happens, he easily wins on the second ballot. After all, if you're a Romney delegate and your man just got 47% of the vote on the first ballot, what in the world would persuade you to switch away from him? But there are a thousand inducements that could persuade a Gingrich, Santorum, or Perry delegate to switch to Romney at that point.

Unless he implodes in a bizarre way, I don't see Romney falling below Tier 3. Therefore, he will be the nominee.

I agree with the majority of pundits that the bruising primaries and debates have hurt Romney. But I don't think he will be hurt by a contested convention that he wins on the first or second ballot. That would actually give him a boost, because it would be exciting to watch.

But in that case, it's essential that neither Gingrich nor Santorum be permitted to give a speech after Romney wins the nomination. They let Reagan do that in 1976, and it made Ford look utterly boring by comparison.

7:10 PM, March 21, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You say delegates won't abandon Romney, but have you ever seen a deadlocked convention? We're not talking about two or three ballots, we're talking about twenty or thirty. Eventually, no matter who you support, you realize you may have to compromise or you'll never get out of there.

7:39 PM, March 21, 2012  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I think the bruising primary has hurt Romney superficially - that is, in premature polls on the head-to-head match up with Obama. But that damage is short lived, since the vast majority of voters have not started paying attention to the election.

On the other hand, the primary battles have forced Romney to get even more organized than he was, in even more states. The foot soldiers, so to speak, already activated to contest primaries in MI, FL, OH, etc. are not going away - they will be ready to go as the real campaign starts. Romney learned his lesson in Colorado, where he could easily have won the non-binding straw poll.

7:36 AM, March 22, 2012  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Anon4: Yes, I completely agree that if the convention remains deadlocked after a few ballots, Romney's delegates will desert him utterly.

The general rule for multi-ballot conclaves is this: Someone becomes the front-runner by getting the most votes on one of the voting rounds. Then on the next ballot he increases, and the delegates say "this guy's hot" and begin switching to him. He increases again, and eventually either he wins, or he peaks.

If he wins, it's over. If he peaks, that means that on ballot number N he gets the most votes he's ever gotten, but then on ballot N+1 his numbers drop.

In that case, his delegates begin abandoning him in droves. Their (very reasonable) logic is that he had his chance; when he was the temporary star every delegate who could conceivably have supported him did so. So if that wasn't enough to put him over the top, he'll never win.

This rule applies to Republican and Democratic conventions from Reconstruction to the 1940s, but it also applies to just about any institution that uses this system, such as papal conclaves.

One might compare it to a bridge game, where your bid is the way you communicate with your partner. In a brokered convention, the primary form of communication is the voting numbers.

Bottom line: As I argued above, if Romney gets over 45% on ballot one, he wins on ballot two. He might even do this if he gets 40%. But either way he has to win right away; if he does not win by ballot three he will never win.

9:42 AM, March 22, 2012  

Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter