Beyond the Cusp

March 7, 2012

Super Tuesday and My Opinion for What it’s Worth

We are looking at a night where the presumed authorities all said that the only primary which counted was Ohio as all the others were preordained by early predictions. So, what does the virtual tie which will split the delegates almost right down the middle mean in the long look at the race? We learned that you can buy a victory, something I am personally very familiar with from my one dip in the wading pool of national politics. My third party candidacy for the House of Representatives, the one in Washington DC, I lost in the vote count but won if you determined number of votes per dollar spent on the campaign. My friends tell me even getting on the ballot was a victory which is more comforting today than back then. But after comparing that my two opponents spent a combined amount in excess of $5,000,000.00 against my huge outlay of $33,000 you find my spending was a less than 0.75% of what was spent. Somehow I received just over 3% of the vote, kind of embarrassing but I can still claim to have gotten more votes for my dollar. Granted, Mitt Romney is outspending Rick Santorum and the rest of the candidates by somewhat less than my opponents outspent my campaign, but over 10 to 1 is a significant difference for such a minor victory. Romney does not have much to crow about.

 

The real story so far in this primary campaign season has been the coverage of the race more than the races themselves and the trial of using proportional representation in many states in assigning their delegates. The proportional delegate assignments is going to be a real plus should this be continued as it will force closer races to actually be represented as such instead of the race being done on super Tuesday. Tonight the talking heads are trying to make the slight Romney win as a sign of the end of the race making him the odds on favorite if not already nominated Republican candidate. The delegate count is nowhere near at a point where anybody is even within sight of the needed count to win the nomination on the first ballot. Yet, I keep listening to these talking heads telling me to go to bed and not bother with the election until November. The only thing I can relate is it is not over and the fat lady has not even been out on the stage as of yet. Should Romney continue and actually win the nomination solely dependent on his deep pockets and disproportional spending and still only manage squeakers splitting the delegates almost sown the middle, how can he expect to beat President Obama who will easily outspend the Republican candidate similarly to Romney’s primary strategy. Considering the investment one would expect Mitt Romney to easily be winning 65% or even 75% of the votes and thus winning entire delegate counts from these states, not sharing evenly with a candidate that was all but unheard from just a few weeks ago. The talk at the front end of these primaries generated questions as to why Rick Santorum had not simply taken the hint and gone home, yet now we are discussing Rick Santorum as making a race out of these primaries and there may still be a few more surprises in store for the talking heads. Much may depend on whether or not Newt Gingrich continues on through to the very end. To be fair, the other way to stop Mitt Romney might be for Santorum to drop out giving his delegates to Newt Gingrich, or they could both drop out and give their delegates to Ron Paul. I think we all know that Ron Paul is in the race to the very bitter end. My hope is that the race soon becomes a three candidate race though I will not hold my breath.

 

The most important singular item is the proportional assignment of delegates which is going to prolong this race well beyond this week. Without this change we would not even be discussing the Republican primaries as it really would be just about all over. By going to a more representative delegate system the Republicans have very likely stretch out the campaign and will thus achieve exactly what was the aim, more people having their say count and the race going much deeper into the primaries. The talk about a bartered Republican Convention was all the talk early on and predicted to be a definite possibility. This prediction was assessed back before even the Iowa caucuses and has proven to have been a premature fear that is no longer likely. The assignment of delegates has run fairly even between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum with Newt Gingrich holding a small share of delegates. Well, guess now all we can do is wait and watch. With any luck it will continue to be, if nothing else, informative and anything but boring. So far it has been anything but predictable as we have watched a parade in which we went through every candidate as the non-Romney and only time will tell if any more grand changes in the tides of battle are in the future.

 

The last item from Super Tuesday came from the caucus in North Dakota. Mitt Romney was predicted to take that caucus by many due to his greater sized organization. Something went horribly wrong according to the reports I heard and Rick Santorum was chosen in the North Dakota caucus. The race continues and sooner or later we will know who will be chosen to be the Republican candidate to run against President Obama this fall. The final win count for Super Tuesday was Romney with 5, Santorum with 3, and Gingrich with 1. As close as those numbers are, the delegate counts will, once all has settled out and been computed, be even closer between the two leaders, Santorum and Romney. At least it has not been a clean sweep as last primary cycle otherwise I would have one less subject to write about.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 15, 2012

The Michigan Trick to Circumvent Proportional Representation of Delegates

After what many saw as disenfranchising voters in the winner take all Republican primaries during the 2008 Presidential elections, a request was made by the Republican National Committee that the individual states decide and, if there was no strong objection, commit to using such a proportional system for assigning delegates, at least for the 2012 Presidential primaries. The next two states scheduled for primary votes are Michigan and Arizona. Both states have taken a route which will do as much as possible to negate using a proportional system for assigning delegates. Arizona took the direct route by retaining its winner take all manner for assigning delegates. Guess we can call that the direct “No” route. Michigan, along with a number of other states, has taken a more surreptitious route in an attempt to get as close as possible to the same result.

 

Michigan has decided to use a system where they divide the state up by legislative districts. They then assign the delegates from each individual district on a winner take all criteria. This will lead to reserving a larger percentage of the delegates than the final vote count will show for the person who takes the lead in the state in the vast majority of cases. The states using this method have even agreed that this system will lead to results that more resemble the winner take all method and is a way of meeting the request of the RNC while maintaining their winner take all tradition. Let us look at a couple of examples including a couple that would actually make this system rob the overall winner of receiving the majority of the delegates.

 

Example 1: In this case we have three candidates who split the vote with Candidate One gaining 45% of the total vote, Candidate Two gaining 40% of the total vote, and Candidate Three getting a mere 15% of the votes. Let us assume the best Candidate Two managed to receive in any district was 41.3% while Candidate One took 41.6% and Candidate Three received the remaining 17.1% of the vote. With such results, Candidate One would receive all of the delegates which obviously does not even begin to closely resembling the proportionate delegate assignment proposed by the Republican National Committee.

 

Example 2: This case we have four candidates who split the vote 27%, 26%, 24%, and 23%. This state had two major cities and each represented two districts out of the total of twelve. The two main winners each took one of these cities with over 90% of the vote while the two lowest vote getting candidates split the rural votes in a tightly contested but virtual two man race with the other two getting a very small percentage. In the end count of delegates the two who appeared to win the state get two districts while the two who got the lesser totals would each receive four districts assuming they split the rural districts evenly. This also is not representative of the actual vote.

 

This last example may end up being very close to the Michigan results. For argument sake we will assume that though Ron Paul has polled well and Newt Gingrich has won in South Carolina that neither one garners a significant number of votes needed to win any district, as the polls predict. We can assume that Mitt Romney will very likely poll extremely well in the districts close to where he was born. He is also predicted to do well in Detroit and surrounding areas while Rick Santorum will very likely sweep the countryside, the rural lands and northern Michigan. In the end, I see Rick Santorum squeeze out a slight numerical victory over Mitt Romney in the total vote count. But due to winning the rural and small town vote by a fair but not overly impressive amount while losing the main population centers by a slightly larger share than his rural wins, Rick Santorum may likely walk away with a larger share of delegates than the vote would represent. Of course, I could be off and Mitt might take a clean sweep of his birth state winning even the most highly contested district over Santorum by a slight measure, but enough to take all the delegates. Either way, the delegate count in Michigan may not represent the vote count which will make for very interesting commentary by the spin doctors and talking heads. Me, well, this will probably be my only mention of this as once the delegates are assigned, the rest is hot air.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 14, 2012

The False Chimera of a Brokered Republican Convention

The idea of having the Republican Convention going well enough beyond the first ballot without producing consensus on a candidate appears to have increasing appeal to some conservative commentators. But would there be any advantage to having a brokered convention produce a compromise candidate drafted from some ephemeral list of alternate choices from those who will have endured over a year of the primary season with its travails, trials, exposure and disclosures. Granted a compromise candidate would have been spared the barbs and scorn from the press and thus may have the appearance of a clean slate. They would be able to take that magic combination of a base from Mitt Romney’s best policy positions, moderated by a smattering of Ron Paul financial and foreign policy restraint, with a moral spine from Rick Santorum, adding some spice and disdain for slanted posing of the press from Newt Gingrich’s arrogant ripostes and then fill in the gaps with Tea Party banter and smooth it all out with classic Republican rhetoric. Such a candidate would be a package of goods assembled a few short months before Election Day which may allow them the advantage of not being pinned down and fully vetted by an overly aggressive press. So, what could possibly be the problem of such a candidate? It appears on paper to be all benefit and little risk, a kind of the best of all worlds rolled neatly into one assembled package.

 

It is the best of all worlds rolled up into one neatly assembled package that would be the problem. Such a candidate would have all the appeal of a dress-up doll. Such a candidate would compare to President Obama in the same manner as a manikin shows off a clothing line compared to a model walking the runway. President Obama comes off well-spoken and relates well with the crowds when on the campaign. He may not be all that smooth when it comes to actually doing the job of President, but he can sound and appear very Presidential on the campaign. He will be as polished as polished can be. Hand-picking a candidate outside of those who endured the primary campaign and paid their dues to get the nomination will give the impression of a manufactured candidate which would be a grave misstep against President Obama. By the time the Republican Convention rolls around at the end of the summer the primary contest will present well vetted and known entities and the American people will expect one of these who have persevered and gained the support of at least a significant portion of the Republican electorate to be acknowledged and chosen to carry on to the election. To place somebody chosen in what we refer to as smoke-filled backrooms filled with faceless impersonal powerbrokers would be an insult to those who had toiled with their chosen candidate through the trials and tribulations to get to the convention. Such a move would be perceived as insult by many conservatives who have faith in a system which includes the votes and voices of the people. If we did not want to have a real influence in choosing the eventual candidate for President from our party, then we would not spend the time, effort, and wealth in a primary campaign season and would not even bother with a convention, we would just rent a conference room at a Motel 6 and be done with it.

 

But there is an even better argument against the brokered convention. Who? Simply, who? Give me the name of who it is that would be such a magnificent name that they would have the vast numbers of voters necessary to win the election and realize that this is the candidate of candidates. Bobby Jindal? Chris Christie? Paul Ryan? Sarah Palin? Glenn Beck? Rush Limbaugh? Clint Eastwood; after the Super Bowl commercial, why not? Really, who is there that would make such a wonderful candidate that it would be worth throwing all the toils and tribulations suffered by those who sweat and bled through the grueling primary endurance trial a wise and intelligent move. No, a brokered convention would be the closest thing to a disaster as the Republicans could pull. We need to continue with the people who have shown the willingness to ante-up and play the hand they are dealt. We need to choose from the warriors who have taken up their armor and survived the barbs and arrows of outrageous fortune and earned the right to represent the Republican voters on the ballot this fall, or is the plan to broker away the people’s trust and support. Note, they are the Republican Party candidate but they represent the voters who came out and supported them in the primaries. No brokered candidate can make that claim.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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