It's not over till there are 1144. An Etch-A-Sketch and the defeat of Mitt Romney

Even after the Blue State Illinois voted for Mr Romney on Tuesday, I was searching today if Eric’s assessment of the finality of this race was real. Was it really time to give up making calls at RickSantorum.com? I just got started!

I’ve found a few pieces of info that seem to contradict Eric’s conclusion.

There have been many posts about the delegate math. I have been dissatisfied with the conclusions drawn. The biggest problem is that there are a number moving pieces that are treated as static: The caucus voters, a candidate approaching 50% of a state or the ‘winner’ premium, challenges at the convention, and the candidate’s performance are each variables that are still unknown and will impact the conclusions posted as facts currently. The reality is that Mitt Romney has won about 35% of the vote and has received about 50% of the delegates. A little under 60% of Republicans have voted for someone else. Seems that small changes in the dynamics of the race could dramatically effect his leading position.

A new to me site is ‘Frontloading HQ’. Josh Putnam is a visiting assistant professor of political science at Davidson College. He seems to be running the only site that is taking an exhaustive approach to the nomination possibilities. He has constructed a paper on the variables for each state. There is even an evaluation of the dramatic differences between this year and 2008. He regularly posts an analysis of the SCU Media’s incomplete approach to the delegate math. Massive amounts of seemingly lightly editorialized information. I firmly believe it’s easier to lie with numbers than with words and Josh seems to be doing a scholarly job of presenting ‘just the facts’, Mam.

So yesterday he posted an evaluation of the Santorum campaign’s latest numbers (before the results were known in IL):

Here is the Santorum campaign delegate estimate:
Romney: 435
Santorum: 311
Gingrich: 158
Paul: 91

The article is fact laden, as they all are, but this quote stood out:

Now, the Santorum math is predicated on over-performing in the steps of the caucus/convention process beyond the precinct phase in the non-binding/unbound caucus states. In those states — Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Maine, Washington and North Dakota — there are 230 delegates at stake. One way of thinking about this is that Santorum would need to receive about 54% of those delegates for 124 (projected in the above numbers)

230 is the number of current unbound caucus delegate, 124 are projected for Santorum above. I believe that is a very conservative projection that could be dynamically affected by silly things like rules, the dedication of the Romney opposition, and red children’s toys.

Can I divert you for a few moments to report on the precinct caucus I attended here in El Paso County, Colorado? It’s important because understanding a Caucus is the only way to get a lever that can adapt the above numbers to reality.

We met in the band room of a local middle school, around 130 souls. The candidates were announced and supporter statements were requested. A statement from each campaign was supposed to be read but one campaign didn’t supply a form letter so none of the others were read. 10-12 people spoke supporting a candidate, 3 Romney, 3 Gingrich, 0 Paul and the rest for Santorum.

The Colorado Presidential Preference Poll posted county wide results of 47%Santorum, 31%Romney, 12%Gingrich,  9% Paul. The Chairmen promptly thanked the attendees for coming to vote and excused anyone that didn’t want to be a delegate. 100 people walked out the door having done their civic duty. However, the nomination process for the County and State caucus had just begun. Nominations, potential delegates statements of support for candidates, and selection, all outlined the allegiances of the remaining 30 folks. There are a limited number being sent to the county and fewer to the state level so the campaign that controls a plurality potentially has the ability of sifting out all the other supporters.

Both Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter had pluralities, not majorities, that were turned into over 90% delegate counts. That’s what will happen in any state that Santorum has a plurality and some where uninspired Romney voters were first and Santorum second, but less likely if Paul supporters are the plurality. The county meetings are this weekend here in Colorado and the State are in April. I will report more over the weekend.

Point of the entire diversion is to say, it’s probable that Santorum supporters will dramatically over perform the numbers above. 311-124=183 are the committed Santorum (after proportional FL and AZ allocations). With 60% of the caucus voters=321; 75% =355; 90%=(like Carter and Reagan) 390. This is an 80-160 delegate swing from the current reported numbers and would reduce Romney and Paul numbers substantially. Even with IL Romney is under 500 delegates, possibly vary far under. The likelihood is is highest on the bottom of the range.

The other piece of this is that a stupid mistake that tells a big story could influence the selection and voting of those delegates. As a Red child’s toy has sprouted leg and easily could effect the outcome of those caucus gatherings. Will embarrassed and unmotivated Romney supporters not show up and be replaced by Santorum voters? Who knows, we are all about to see.

The last piece is the rule 40.b situation. It might be the death knell to both the Paul and Gingrich efforts. Without 5 pluralities or a path to them, there will be no candidate to vote for. That would seem to lessen the resolve of those supporters. If this really is a 2 man race everything changes. The premium then goes to the winner. In most states, after the RNC deadline, the states Winner-Take-All the delegates for an over 50% win. Mitt is also receiving the ‘winner’ vote which evaporates as the polls show a closer race.

This race is nowhere near over. With Newt out his voters go 60-75% to Rick depending on the poll.  10% added to the polling puts Rick over 50% in lots of places.

A Rick Santorum win is very possible. After this first round, here in Colorado, we will find out if it’s probable.

Thanks as always for reading…