Monday, April 16, 2012

Mixed Results for Romney in First Contests Since Becoming Presumptive Nominee

If you were expecting a repeat of North Dakota in Colorado or Minnesota over the weekend in state and/or congressional district conventions, you were dealt a bit of a surprise.

Unlike what transpired in the Peace Garden state two weeks ago, presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, was unable to dominate the proceedings in either Colorado's state and congressional district conventions or in the three congressional district conventions in Minnesota's 3rd, 5th and 6th districts. Instead Romney was shut out in the North Star state, overperformed his statewide straw poll showing in the Colorado state convention, and broke even or was bested in the seven congressional district conventions in the Centennial state.

In Minnesota:
According to Minnesota Republican National Committeewoman Pat Anderson, Ron Paul swept all three congressional district conventions in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Remember on February 7 when the twitterverse collectively scoffed at the the notion that Paul would get the "maximum number of delegates out of Minnesota"? FHQ filed that memory away. As of now, four congressional districts have held conventions. Paul adds nine from the past weekend's three conventions to the one delegate he received in the 7th district at the end of March.1 Half way through the congressional district delegate allocation, 83% of the delegates so far selected support Ron Paul. FHQ has been saying it since January, and we'll say it again: Ron Paul will get his delegates. Will he win the Republican nomination? No, but he will likely overshoot his delegate total from four years ago in St. Paul this summer in Tampa.

In Colorado:
In winning eight delegate spots out of 12 total at-large delegates, Mitt Romney outperformed his 35% straw poll share of the vote by almost 100%.2 In other words, had Colorado proportionally allocated its at-large delegates, Romney would have received just four delegates. On this particular weekend, this statewide (state convention) vote was the closest thing to North Dakota that was witnessed across two other (mostly) non-binding caucus states.

Congressional Districts:
Of all the candidates, Mitt Romney had the most delegates at five of the seven Colorado congressional district conventions. Of course, that overlooks the fact that there was a fairly significant cache of unpledged delegates across all seven districts. It also turns a blind eye to the reality that Santorum's and Paul's collective delegate strength was greater than Romney's in five of the seven districts. In those two districts where Romney outmatched the Paul/Santorum "team"3 -- the 3rd and 6th districts -- Romney won one and two delegates respectively. Unpledged delegates won the other two delegate positions in the 3rd and the other one in the 6th. It may, then, have been less about a collective effort between Paul and Santorum supporters than the majority of unpledged delegates in both of those districts.

What was truly strange was that Santorum won any of the congressional district delegates. He placed fourth in the number of congressional district convention delegates in the 1st (one delegate won) and 2nd (one delegate won), and third in the 4th (one delegate won), 5th (two delegates won), and 7th (one delegate won). No candidate received all three delegates from any of the seven congressional districts, but Santorum winning two delegates in a district where he finished behind "Unpledged" and Paul -- in that order -- was noteworthy the weekend after the former Pennsylvania senator suspended his campaign.

Meanwhile, it was perhaps even stranger that Ron Paul emerged from the Colorado district conventions with no pledged delegates. Many Paul supporters celebrated the overall unpledged victory, claiming that those are Ron Paul delegates. And with Santorum out, that may not necessarily be untrue, though Santorum delegates comprise six of the 20 total slots that were not either Romney delegates or automatic delegates in the Colorado delegation.

2012 Colorado Republican Party Congressional District Delegate Breakdown 
(National Convention Delegates Won in Parentheses)
#120 (2)317 (1)365
#251 (2)147 (1)131
#389 (2)27 (1)1962
#478 (2)2823 (1)130
#5359 (1)14 (2)170
#648 (1)31 (2)1140
#756 (1)21 (1)16 (1)100

What, then, can we take away from the weekend?

For starters, this provides us with perhaps the polar opposite to what happened in North Dakota, where the state party put forth a delegate slate for vote before the entire state convention that was weighted toward Mitt Romney. Romney may or may not do well among the Minnesota at-large delegate slate, the Paul, Santorum and Gingrich supporters aren't rolling over and playing dead.

...even if Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee.

And again, this further fills out the picture of the connection between the straw poll results and the actual delegate allocation in the non-binding/unbound delegate caucus states. It may be that at some point everyone rallies behind Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee, but that is not happening yet as the state conventions for these caucus states roll around. North Dakota was evidence that the party (state or national) was willing that to be the case, but Colorado and Minnesota have given the counterargument: That the straw poll, or more to the point, the precinct caucuses are not entirely meaningless. There is no binding mechanism, but that does not mean that the delegates chosen to move from one round of the caucus/convention process are not devoid of presidential candidate preferences. The fallout from North Dakota and the results in Colorado and (so far in) Minnesota should speak to that. None of these allocations have been proportional to the straw poll results, nor have they been winner-take-all. They are the organic byproduct of the caucus/convention system; unbound by direct allocation rules.

The expectation is that Romney will likely move toward a consolidation of the vote in the remaining primary states, but these caucus states -- finishing up a process that was borne out of an earlier and competitive portion of this race -- will be worth watching. Delegates committed to the non-Romney candidates may continue to be for their candidates.

...or at least against the presumptive nominee as these processes run their course. Want a signal that the not-Romney voters and delegates have given up? Watch these delegate allocating state conventions as primaries continue to tip toward Romney.

1 Delegates supporting Rick Santorum took the other two slots.

2 Colorado Republican Party National Delegate Results:
Colorado Republican Party National Delegate Results

3 This was something that FHQ brought up last week in setting the stage for the Colorado delegate allocation.

Recent Posts:
Hey Hey, Ho Ho. This Romney Protest's Got to Go?

Santorum Suspends: A Nomination Race in Context

Cart Before the Horse: Pennsylvania/Colorado Edition

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.


Anonymous said...

Why no mention of Wyoming? That seemed to go the way of North Dakota, but I haven't been able to find much in the way of stories from the convention... at least those that don't center around Dick Cheney.

jkfan87 said...

So...Romney has gotten MORE delegates than he "erned" with hte popular vote in pretty much every caucus state that has had their state convention so far. In other words..the media totals that the RonPaul cult has been scream is so far off really IS off. Because they have been reporting Romney's numbers as too LOW.