CP Politics

Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014

Delegate Math Doesn't Add Up for Santorum

  • (Photo: REUTERS/Sean Gardner)
    Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum addresses supporters at a Get Out The Vote rally in Mandeville, Louisiana March 21, 2012. Louisiana's primary will be held on Saturday March 24, 2012.
March 22, 2012|12:40 pm

Despite Mitt Romney's likely loss in Saturday's Louisiana primary, Rick Santorum has a rocky road ahead to win the Republican presidential nomination.

Santorum has few chances to pick up delegates in April. Romney is favored to win Maryland and Washington, D.C., on April 3, and Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Rhode Island on April 24. Santorum is only favored to win one state in April, his home state of Pennsylvania on the 24th. Wisconsin's April 3 primary will likely be the most competitive state that month, but Romney is currently leading there in the polls.

Santorum will have a more favorable calendar in May, but the way that delegates are apportioned over the next two months creates a significant disadvantage for him.

Every state in April has a winner-take-all primary, but in May delegates are assigned proportionally. This means that in all the states favorable to Romney in April, Romney only needs to win a plurality of the vote and he will receive all the delegates for that state.

Then in May, Romney may not win the states favorable to Santorum, but he will still be able to pick up delegates. The number of delegates he receives will be, more or less, proportional to the percentage of the vote he receives (depending on how the delegates are assigned). Santorum will not, therefore, be able to narrow the gap by very much in May.

RealClearPolitics.com estimates that Romney currently has 560 delegates while Santorum has 246. If Romney wins all the states he is expected to win in April, that will bring him an additional 257 delegates, or just 327 delegates shy of the 1,144 need to clinch the nomination. He will likely pick up over half of those with California's 172 delegates in its June 5 winner-take-all primary.

The disadvantage Santorum faces in April was set up by the Republican National Committee (RNC) in order to avoid a contested convention. Winner-take-all primaries tend to lead to a fast conclusion to the nomination race because candidates are able to accumulate a large number of delegates quickly. The RNC realized that a contested convention would likely diminish the party's chances of winning in November, so it required all states that hold an April primary to allocate its delegates on a winner-take-all basis.

Marjorie Hershey, professor of political science at Indiana University, predicted, in a December 2011, interview with The Christian Post, that if the race is undecided in March, April would lead to a quick conclusion.

"If things are muddled in the early primaries, by April, the winner-take-all primaries should probably make the difference one way or another," Hershey said. "Winner-take-all primaries tend to build momentum very fast. In 2008, for example, in Missouri, John McCain had won a plurality in the primary, I think maybe one percent more than Romney and two percent more than Huckabee and, given that it was winner-take-all, he got all the delegates in Missouri.

"That really has a profound effect, when Huckabee and Romney come out with zero, having come real close in the popular vote. That's pretty devastating. It has a negative effect on volunteers. It has a negative effect on people who are likely to donate money. And, the process speeds up considerably."

If Romney does not have the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination after the last primary, June 26 in Utah, the RNC has yet another method in place to avoid a contested convention – unpledged superdelegates.

For this year, there are 117 superdelegates to the convention (fewer than normal because some states suffered penalties for scheduling their contests too early). Superdelegates can vote for whomever they want, but they are essentially designed to avoid a contested convention. Parties want to avoid a contested convention because they reinforce the popular image that they are elitist, Hershey explained.

"There are a lot of reasons why the delegates themselves and the party leaders would not want a brokered convention. It looks party leader driven and so-called 'boss driven' and feeds into an image that, although it's completely inaccurate, has been so long lasting in the American public. We're so convinced that there are party bosses out there, even though there aren't. It's really easy to trigger that image and that's the last thing that the parties want, to have their party appear to be a boss party."

So, if Romney falls a little short of the 1,144 delegates to win the nomination, there should be enough superdelegates to put him over the top, and they have a strong interest in doing so.

Contact: napp.nazworth@christianpost.com, @NappNazworth (Twitter)
Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/delegate-math-doesnt-add-up-for-santorum-71905/