Monday, April 9, 2012

More on Santorum Delegate Math and Some Thoughts on Texas as Winner-Take-All

FHQ won't belabor the point on the Santorum delegate math. We're late to this anyway, as the Santorum campaign put out their memo, "The Media's Delegate Math is Wrong" last Thursday. There are degrees to delegate counting. As much as the AP projection is rosy for Romney (It is actually not that bad for Santorum, while we're on the subject.), the Santorum count is equally -- well, way more so in truth -- Santorum-friendly.

The truth lies somewhere in between; closer to the AP projection, but in the between nonetheless. At least with the AP's math, we know that there is a proportional projection of the delegates across most of the group of non-binding caucus states. That can be accounted for, and in fact, FHQ attempts to do just that by backing out those delegates until they are actually allocated at congressional district and/or state conventions. Those delegates are unbound. To take one example, the AP initially -- based on the March 6 caucus straw poll results -- awarded Rick Santorum 11 delegates in North Dakota, Ron Paul eight, Mitt Romney seven and Newt Gingrich two delegates. [Yes, that proportionally allocates the three automatic delegates also.] The reality following the late March state convention in the Peace Garden state was that the slate of delegates selected favored Romney. Once the dust settled the AP was able to report that of that elected slate of delegates, 12 supported Romney, eight Santorum, two Paul and one delegate came out for Gingrich.1 Two others remained uncommitted and that rounded out the 25 non-automatic delegates. Of those three automatic delegates, one, the national committeewoman Sandy Boehler endorsed Romney while the other two stayed on the sidelines.

Is the media's count wrong?

Yes, their projection was. Reality versus projection shows an eight seven delegate swing in Romney's direction.

The advantage to that is that we have the ability to pinpoint mistakes; or at least perceived mistakes. Such a benefit is not afforded us in the Santorum count. This is what prompted me to say -- via tweet -- that it was put up or shut up time for the Santorum campaign. Either demonstrate -- state-by-state -- what the count is or stop pretending.2 FHQ is absolutely fine with the Arizona or Florida argument. It is wrong to reallocate those delegates strictly proportionally, but that is an area I'm willing to play along with the Santorum folks. But if they want anyone to believe that the campaign is having any success in this, well, Paul-like caucus strategy, then it is time to show who the delegates are and it would help to share a line of endorsement from those delegates as well. The Santorum campaign needs fewer North Dakotas and much fewer "You'll just have to trust us, but we have almost 200 more delegates than anyone is giving us credit for" press releases. The proof is in the pudding and I don't think the Santorum folks have gotten us to that point in the meal yet. [Heck, I don't think we're seated at the table yet.]

The question is simple: If you have more delegates when are you going to share with everyone from where those delegates are?

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The far more interesting piece of information from the Santorum delegate memo was that Texas would be moving to a winner-take-all allocation of its delegates. FHQ has a few comments on this:
  1. This has come up several times since it became apparent that Texas would not be able to hold a March 6 presidential primary. The Republican Party of Texas voted in September 2011 to shift to a proportional method of allocation to comply with RNC rules. But then, due to the dispute of congressional district lines, the March primary became unfeasible. 
  2. This had RPT arguing that the [proportionality] rules were set in stone prior to October 1 (the deadline for states to have rules in place according to the RNC rules) and that was that. But that had FHQ asking in December why it was not possible to argue before the RNC that circumstances out of the control of RPT forced the switch to proportionality in the first place and that with an after-April 1 primary Texas could transition back to its former delegate allocation method.
  3. Of course, arguing that RPT would have an argument before the RNC is not anything that has any basis in reality in the Republican rules. There is -- as RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer pointed out -- no waiver process. That is only something that occurs on the Democratic side. The RNC delegate selection process is, as FHQ has attempted to point out, much more decentralized. Traditionally, states have had the latitude to decide how they will allocate their apportioned delegates. In 2012, that leeway was only afforded to states with contests after April 1. But just as there is no waiver process on the Republican side, there is nothing in the RNC delegate selection rules to prevent a post-October 1 change on the state level to state-level delegate rules. There is no direct penalty for such a move. Would there be a challenge to such a change at the convention (if it mattered)? Sure, but it would still be possible. Several states finalized plans after October 1, 2011. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina all moved the dates of their contests after that point. Any penalties incurred were due to the earliness of those contests and not because they had shifted the dates of their primaries or caucuses after October 1. Who else changed dates after October 1? Texas did; twice. 
  4. Can RPT change to a winner-take-all method of allocation? Yes, but there apparently is not enough willingness to do so where it counts in the Lone Star state. Back at the end of February, when the state party had to finalize plans to deal with the new court-arbitrated May 29 primary date, the [State Republican Executive Committee of the] Republican Party of Texas voted down at least three resolutions to change the proportional allocation method to something else. 
  5. Now there is a movement within at least some factions of the party to revert to the rules as they were before: winner-take-all. Of course, just as many thought that all the pre-April 1 states would have strictly proportional allocation, many are of the opinion that Texas will be strictly winner-take-all. To return to the rules as they were in 2008 in Texas, though, the party would be returning to a conditional system of allocation. A majority winner, either statewide or on the congressional district level, would receive all of the at-large or the three delegates per congressional district, respectively. Otherwise, everything is proportional. This is not a statewide winner-take-all delegate system like what was witnessed in Washington, DC last week (or Florida or Arizona for that matter). What that means is that Santorum would not necessarily receive all of the delegates from Texas. 
  6. ...and even if Santorum did win all of the Texas delegates would it keep Romney from 1144? It would reduce his cushion some.
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1 From the AP's Dale Wetzel:
"The state GOP initially said delegates would be awarded in proportion to the caucus results, though the delegates would remain free to vote their conscience. If delegates were awarded proportionally, Santorum would get 11, Paul would get eight, Romney would get seven and Gingrich would get two. 
But at the state convention, Romney supporters successfully elected the most delegates — even though the former Massachusetts governor finished third in the caucuses. In interviews with the AP, 12 delegates said they backed Romney, eight supported Santorum, two favored Paul and one preferred Gingrich. Two delegates said they had no favorite. 
Rounding out North Dakota's 28 delegates are three members of the Republican National Committee who will automatically attend the convention. Among them, Sandy Boehler supports Romney while Curly Haugland and Stan Stein, the state GOP chairman, are uncommitted. 
The delegates said they plan to meet prior to the national convention to decide how they will vote with the idea that they would divvy up votes to reflect the results of the caucuses."
2 This prompted Jon Bernstein to respond that it was the campaign's job to pretend. And I totally agree. It is the Santorum campaign's right to pretend. However (and this is where so many conversations between political scientists end up), I would argue that there are degrees of pretending and the Santorum folks do themselves no favors by not presenting even one shred of evidence that they have any more delegates than the press gives them credit for. [I genuinely hope that Jon comes back at this with a reference to the Seinfeld episode where Elaine and the Eastern European author are arguing in an elevator about whether there are "just coincidences" or if there are degrees of coincidences.] If Santorum campaign wants to push back against the AP projection, it isn't had to do, but do it by producing at least one, say, Missouri congressional district delegate who is supporting Santorum or at least one more than the AP is attributing to Santorum.

Recent Posts:
Race to 1144: MD, DC & WI Primaries

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Maryland

2012 Republican Delegate Allocation: Washington, DC


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1 comment:

DBL said...

For the Texas GOP to change the rules, they must first get the 15 executive committee members to agree to a meeting. Then they need 2/3 to vote yes.

Then the RNC would have to grant them a waiver. They said they won't do that. The Texas GOP could decide to do it anyway. The RNC would, I assume, penalize them half their delegates as they did with other violators.