The first report I heard this morning on last night’s primaries in Alabama and Mississippi along with caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa just had to mention Mitt Romney after referencing any of the other candidates. It went something like this; Santorum won both southern primaries in Mississippi and Alabama while Romney came in a competitive third also coming in behind Gingrich. Romney swept the caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa. Santorum will pick up around forty delegates while Romney will garner fifty. Gingrich coming in second will add over thirty delegates to his count leaving Romney still comfortably in the lead.
The main themes of the news last night appeared to be that despite winning both primaries, Rick Santorum was still going to lose ground because of the delegates being assigned in the Pacific Islands. It was further pointed out that Rick Santorum can only win should Newt Gingrich leave the race and that possibility was hashed out until after Gingrich spoke showing all indications of continuing to the bitter end. This slid the conversation to how Mitt Romney winning the nomination was now guaranteed and an overly long string of attempts to rationalize the reasoning behind Newt Gingrich remaining in the race. I thought maybe I might share my insights on the rest of the Republican delegate race heading for the Convention.
I have a little difference of opinion with the so-called experts and pundits about Gingrich remaining in the race will solely work to thwart any chance for Rick Santorum to win the nomination outright. The reasoning for this line of thinking is based upon the primary belief that almost every vote won by Gingrich would have otherwise been a vote for Rick Santorum. I find this a difficult point to swallow. While I will grant that very likely three fourths of the Gingrich support is diverted from Santorum with fifteen to twenty percent are taken from Romney, the remainder very probably would have sat out the primaries. Some of my thinking has been due to the fact that in many states the numbers of votes being cast in the Republican Primaries have been higher than the average as the race is tighter and more competitive and thus stirring up increased participation. The real question is what is Newt Gingrich thinking which has him believing that he can actually win the nomination?
My theory has it that Newt Gingrich does not believe he is going to win the nomination any more than does Ron Paul. Newt also resembles Ron Paul in that he believes he is the only candidate representing his views which is a vitally necessary message which must be professed no matter what the consequences. I suspect Gingrich has another reason to remain to the bitter end, and that is because he believes that he and Santorum together can garner sufficient delegates to prevent a first round nomination of Mitt Romney thus leading to that mystical political state, a bartered convention. Should the Republican Convention end up unable to give any of the candidates over fifty percent of the vote, then the bartering and maneuvering begins. If the divide is such that Romney has less than fifty percent, say forty-five percent, with Santorum a close second at say thirty-nine percent and Gingrich holding fourteen percent with Ron Paul holding the remaining 2 percent, insufficient for Ron Paul to put anybody over the top. This places Newt Gingrich in the spot of king-maker as whoever he backs would easily win with their delegates added together. My suspicion is even more absurd as I can easily envision Newt Gingrich presenting himself to the Convention as the sole candidate not destroyed by the process as both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney had focused their aim on each other leaving Newt safely on the sidelines away from the mud-slinging.
For those who claim that the only result that can come out of Newt Gingrich remaining in the race taking most, but not all, of his votes and delegates from supporting Rick Santorum thus keeping him from winning outright have overlooked a small matter. My thought is that when Mitt Romney falls short of the necessary delegate count we will find that this will be due to the small but still measurable number of votes and delegates stolen away by Newt Gingrich and simply having the votes he took away from Santorum being insufficient to have put him over the top anyways. So, it is possible that it will be better for Santorum to have Gingrich in the thick of things instead of dropping out of the race. Finally, should we end up with a brokered convention, actually a convention that goes past the first vote casting before reaching a nomination, it is more likely that Rick Santorum would be able to enlist the support from Newt Gingrich than would Mitt Romney. The drawback would be that after a certain number of ballots have been held, some states release their delegates from their elected obligations allowing them to vote for whoever they choose. This would very likely lead to the so-called Republican elites making the decision on who would be the candidate. Even if this was not the real reason for a Romney win, it would be suspected should he not have reached the magic number of delegates through the primary process and a perceived back-room deal appeared responsible for a Romney candidacy. Such a perception would weaken Mitt Romney’s campaign from the outset which might affect the outcome of the national election in November. The best result for the Republican Party is for one candidate, whichever one is less important than the manner, to win the nomination outright through the primary votes and not reliant on super delegates or other non-elected delegates being the deciders.
Beyond the Cusp