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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GOP Nominating Process

At RealClearPolitics, Sean Trende makes important observations.

First, the South is not necessarily dominant:
Southern delegates will make up just over a third of the total GOP convention -- and this is using the Census Bureau definition of the “South,” which includes border states like Maryland and Kentucky. Note that the Northeast and West combine for as many delegates as the South, while the West and Midwest can combine to trump it.
What about Romney?

That Rose Garden strategy may have worked well against Michele Bachmann in August, but it won’t work against Perry in November. And that brings us to the realquestion: What happens when Romney does join the fray? He has always been 100 times better on paper than in reality -- has that changed? Has Romney really solved the problems from his 2008 race? Can he come across as convincing and personable, or will he always seem insincere and robotic? Can he withstand the barrage over RomneyCare when it comes, or does he have a glass jaw (as he did in 2008)? To my mind, those questions are as important, if not more so, than questions about Perry’s ability to campaign.

There are new rules:

The RNC has decided to strip half of the delegates from any state that holds a primary or caucus before March 1, other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada. Some states are considering pushing their primaries back, although these also tend to be the more moderate states, like Wisconsin and New Jersey. The more conservative states seem to be hanging tough, for now. In other words, you could end up with some of the more conservative states in the GOP electorate losing clout at the convention.

And a new calendar:

Notice that these late primary states are overall substantially more moderate, and significantly less evangelical than the earlier states.

This could prove critical in a drawn-out race. The reason is simple, and yet not well-known. The RNC has provided that states holding primaries before April 1 must allocate delegates proportionately. But after that date, states may opt for winner-take-all primaries, and many of these states have done so. In other words, we could have a situation where a conservative candidate (or a pair of conservative candidates) does well in the first three months, but has to give some delegates to the more moderate candidate. This is similar to what happened to Clinton, who won crucial primary battles late in the game, but couldn’t make much headway in the delegate count because of how these delegates were allocated. So despite winning the majority of primaries, the conservative candidate could end up with only a small lead in delegates over the more moderate candidate. If the moderate candidate then performs well in April or afterward, he could quickly rack up enough delegates to break away and claim the nomination.