Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another Weekend, Another Mixed Bag for Romney in Caucus State Delegate Allocation

Not to completely beat this into the ground, but FHQ has attempted since Iowa on January 3 to point out that there are likely to be differences -- some significant, some small -- between non-binding precinct caucus results and the ultimate allocation of delegates across the handful of states with these caucus/conventions systems. With Rick Santorum having suspended his campaign, the balance will tip toward more significant differences rather than smaller ones (ie: Romney, as presumptive nominee, overperforming his straw poll showings at the precinct level), but with some variation. Hypothetically speaking, then, the baseline expectation is that the worse Romney did in the initial straw poll, the greater the turnaround will be for him when the delegates are actually allocated.

Now, FHQ is not going to formally test this -- not yet anyway -- but in eyeballing it, there is some evidence of this in the small group of caucus states to have finalized or partially finalized their delegate allocation.1 In North Dakota, for instance, Romney turned a third place finish in the March 6 straw poll into an overall victory as measured in national convention delegates coming out of the state convention in the Peace Garden state. Stated differently, Romney received just a shade under 24% of the vote in the North Dakota straw poll, but won over 43% of the delegates at the state convention.

This is a small group of states, though, and there is evidence that the opposite has occurred as well: Romney not improving on an earlier (weak) performance. In a similar circumstance to North Dakota, Minnesota also saw Romney finish third in the February 7 straw poll vote. Unlike North Dakota, however, the congressional district delegate allocation has continued to go (overwhelmingly) against Romney. Instead of consolidating behind the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, nearly 85% of the delegates have gone to Texas congressman Ron Paul.  That is a more than tripling of the level of support Paul garnered in the precinct caucuses.2

As compared to that baseline expectation above, we get less a picture of some sort of systematic, generalizable pattern and more of a sense that much of this variation -- the movement to and from candidates from the initial step of the process to the delegate allocation step -- is based on state-level quirks. And I don't know that that is all that unexpected. It speaks to the decentralized nature of the Republican nomination process, and by extension the differences across states in allocating delegates. That is why we have instances where Romney placed third in straw polls with under a quarter of the vote but ended up with 0% of the delegates in Minnesota and 43% in North Dakota.3

If those are the two extremes in the precinct caucus performance to convention allocation range, then there are a couple of states that fit somewhere in between; states where Romney crested above the 25% mark in the straw poll, but where the former Massachusetts governor has improved upon that in the allocation of delegates. Despite some mixed results in Colorado a week ago, Romney was still able to increase his 35% share of the straw poll vote to a nearly 45% share of the delegates allocated. In Missouri, Romney's doubled his 25% showing in the February 7 non-binding primary in the congressional district convention delegate allocation.4 Of the 24 delegates on the line across the Show Me state in eight congressional district conventions on Saturday, Romney supporters filled twelve slots.

Again, much of the variation is attributable to state-level factors. These are factors like the North Dakota Republican Party putting forth a delegate slate at their state convention that was heavily weighted toward Romney. Moving in the opposite direction, the fact that Paul-Santorum unity slates won 16 out of 21 congressional district delegate positions and 20 of the 33 total spots represents evidence of a lack of consolidation behind Romney in some of these states. And heading into the rest of the contests, what should we expect?

Continued variation.
  • Will state parties attempt to ram through Romney-centric slates as in North Dakota?
  • Will they have to or will there be any discernible consolidation behind Romney with or without such efforts?
  • Will Paul slates of delegates continue to work with Santorum leftovers like in Colorado?
  • Will those Santorum remainders take the seemingly pragmatic route and work with Romney unity slates as in several Missouri congressional district conventions?
There are still state conventions to be held in Minnesota and Missouri and state/district conventions to be held in Iowa, Maine and Washington (and Louisiana). With the exception of Missouri (see footnote #4), Ron Paul received anywhere from 21% of the vote at the precinct level (Iowa) to 34% (Maine). In tandem with the Santorum share of the vote, that creates a Paul-Santorum range of 46% (Iowa) collectively to 72% (Minnesota) where those Santorum folks are fairly consequential in determining the ultimate allocation. Siding with Romney is a vote for consolidation and party unity whereas a vote for Paul is a vote against Romney.

...just like what the Romney folks did to John McCain in siding with Paul delegates in Nevada in 2008.

1 At this point, that list includes Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Wyoming. Iowa, Maine and Washington have yet to reach either the state or district convention stages of their processes. The district conventions are held in conjunction with the state conventions in either May or June in each of those three states.

2 Paul's delegate haul in the four congressional district conventions in Minnesota on Saturday (April 21) mirrored his performance in the four prior district conventions: ten Paul delegates, two non-Paul delegates. The Minnesota count as of now stands at Paul: 20, Santorum: 2, Gingrich: 1 and Unknown: 2 with 13 delegates to be selected at the state convention and two automatic delegates.

3 The process is complete in North Dakota, but the Minnesota process has just gotten through the district convention allocation stage. In other words, the process is not complete there. The 0% number should also bear some caveats. Two of the remaining four delegates that have been allocated in Minnesota are Santorum delegates allocated prior to this weekend. The final two are unknown in terms of their affiliation. They could be Romney supporters, but could be unaligned or aligned with another candidate. That 0% is based on what we know now: Romney has no clear delegates from Minnesota.

4 Missouri is slightly different from the other states in that the non-binding primary held there was not held in conjunction with the selection of delegates to move on to a subsequent step in a caucus/convention process. The Missouri Republican Party did not report results from the March 17 precinct caucuses where the delegate selection process began. If anything there is less of a link between the primary results in Missouri and the delegate selection than there is in the other non-binding caucus states without a primary. But without precinct-level caucus data, the primary results in Missouri are all we have in the way of comparison in terms of where the process began there.

Recent Posts:
In Missouri, A Bill to Bind Delegates Based on the Presidential Primary; Not the Caucus

Race to 1144: CO, MN & ND Conventions

Mixed Results for Romney in First Contests Since Becoming Presumptive Nominee

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shareman99 said...

You forgot to mention that Ron Paul won 20 delegates in Minnesota at the conventions over the last 2 weekends. You need to do a little more homework before writing your articles. Romney is going to be stomped at the state convention in Missouri Ron Paul didn't send many to the county conventions because they wanted to control the state where he would get the plurality of the delegates

Josh Putnam said...

Please see footnote #2 for the Minnesota numbers.

I don't follow your county caucuses comment about Missouri. The county caucuses elected delegates to both the district and state conventions. If the Paul folks in attendance at the county caucuses lacked the numbers and opted to focus on the filling out state convention slots (only rationale I can think of) instead of the district convention slots that is something I've yet to see. But from what I understand the Paul campaign had good levels of support at the county caucuses.

lakawak said...

All that matters is that in the caucus states that have awarded delegates so far, Romney has MORE than he should. So all the Ron Paul suicide cult members whining about how the media is reporting WAY to many delegates for Romney is wrong. The numbers that have been include are actually LOW so far. In other words...since the "keep Romney under 1144" plan pretty much DEPENDS on Romney getting almost ZERO unbound delegates, it is failing.

Anonymous said...

If caucus states will conduct themselves like King County (Washington) GOP Chairwoman Lori Sotelo, then you can expect Romney to outperform his straw poll showings.

It's hard to believe but the video footage shows how outrageous the Chairwoman is. There are subtitles on the video footage by clicking on the CC button.