My assumption -- and the assumption of many -- was that the GOP fight would eventually degenerate into an ideological battle between the very conservative and somewhat conservative/moderate wings of the party, with Romney on one side and a single alternative on the other. Unless there was a late entrant or Ron Paul caught fire in the caucus states, someone was virtually assured of claiming the requisite number of delegates in that scenario.
But for the first time, the two way faceoff doesn't seem inevitable, and a viable path to a brokered convention is beginning to emerge. Let’s start with something else I overlooked. The GOP does have super-delegates of a sort, in the form of the 63 RNC members. They aren’t as numerous as they are in the Democratic Party, but they are still there. While many of them have already declared allegiance to one candidate or another, those commitments can evaporate quickly, as Hillary Clinton learned to her sorrow in 2008.
But more importantly, demographic and geographic splits are beginning to surface in the GOP that resemble the splits in the Democratic Party in 2008. That year, Hillary Clinton laid claim to working-class whites and Latino voters, while Barack Obama laid claim to college-educated whites and African-Americans. This divide continued throughout the primary, right up to the last day of voting.
The GOP split is more speculative at that point. To see it, let’s examine a map of U.S. counties and how they have voted so far. Blue counties backed Romney, red backed Gingrich, green are for Santorum, while white have gone for some other candidate (or not yet voted).
Romney has done well in New Hampshire and south Florida; the latter is basically the North transplanted to the South. This suggests continued strength in the Northeast. He’s also done well in the Mountain West: Nevada was in his camp, as was a large portion of the Western Slope of Colorado. Note also the handful of counties in southern Colorado that went for Romney; they are heavily Mexican-American, and Romney has run well with Latino voters in the GOP contests thus far.
Next, Gingrich. As I noted a few days ago, there is continued resistance to Mitt Romney in the GOP among evangelicals. These voters are concentrated largely, but not exclusively, in the South. And as we see, the former House speaker ran well in South Carolina as well as in northern Florida. This caused many to conclude that Gingrich was on the verge of emerging as the definitive not-Romney.
But now we have to consider that Santorum has won Iowa and Minnesota in the Midwest, and won Colorado largely on the strength of his showing in eastern Colorado (which is basically the Great Plains). He also won Missouri -- which is culturally more southern than Midwestern -- but Gingrich wasn’t on the ballot there. For now at least, he is the "anti-Romney" in the Midwest.
If this split continues -- Romney in the West and Northeast, Gingrich in the South, and Santorum in the Midwest -- we could easily find ourselves in a scenario where no candidate crosses the 1,144-delegate threshold by the time voting ends. Consider this: Right now, Romney barely has a majority of the delegates. If Gingrich successfully contests the winner-takes-all allocation in the Florida primary (based on the RNC’s rule against such a format before April), no one would have a majority of the delegates as of today.
We will find out how viable this path is in the next few weeks. In the lead-up to Super Tuesday, we’ll probably see Romney win Arizona, Michigan and Maine. Arizona and Maine are in his demographic wheelhouse, while he is a native Michigander and his father was governor of the state. Washington is a coastal state, where Romney’s strength hasn’t been tested, so it is up in the air.
Super Tuesday will likely be tougher for him. Four of the five largest states -- Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia -- are Southern (or in Oklahoma's case, culturally Southern). Romney will likely win Virginia by default, but he will probably fare poorly in the remaining three. If Gingrich can maintain his strength in the South, he will likely win them.
On the other hand, Romney will probably do well in Massachusetts, Idaho and Vermont. Santorum seems well-positioned to win North Dakota.
So the viability of a three-way split probably comes down to Ohio, which has a fair number of evangelicals, though not to the degree that Tennessee, Oklahoma and Georgia do. Santorum has some strengths he can draw on in the Buckeye State, as his blue-collar message could play well even among Republicans there. If he wins, it means that we probably do have a deeply divided GOP, with Gingrich taking the anti-Romney vote in the South, and Santorum taking the anti-Romney vote in the Midwest.
(...) In the event this scenario does unfold through Super Tuesday, we would then begin a long slog. But unlike 2008, where Obama’s states were frontloaded and allowed him to gain an air of inevitability early on, here the states are spread out. The remainder of March contains Northern caucuses in Wyoming and Kansas. There are Southern states: Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. At the same time, areas with heavily Latino population such as Puerto Rico, and states with relatively liberal Republican parties (Illinois) will cast their ballots. The fact that these contests award their delegates proportionately will prevent any candidate from breaking out.
In April, Gingrich would have a great chance in Texas, Maryland and Delaware (increasingly de facto Southern states in the GOP primary electorate), while Romney would receive large delegate hauls in Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. Santorum would have primaries in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
In the end, we could end up in California in early June with no clear nominee. While that state is nominally winner-take-all for a whopping 172 delegates, in fact it allocates the overwhelming majority of those delegates by Congressional District. Who is voting in a Republican primary in Nancy Pelosi’s or Maxine Waters’ district? I honestly have no idea, but if they’re different from the voters in the Latino central valley districts, and if they’re different than the voters in Orange County, and if they’re different from the voters in the Sierra districts, we really could have a situation where the state doesn’t produce a winner for the GOP.
If this occurs, and Ron Paul wins around 100 delegates along the way, we have a situation where no candidate has more than 900 delegates, and three have more than 400. In that situation, no one would be able to lay claim to the mantle of presumptive nominee. The convention would eventually deadlock, and an outside candidate could emerge.
jueves, 9 de febrero de 2012
¿Hacia una convención abierta? (III)
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