Thursday, January 12, 2012
Recently, I had a couple of op-eds published by the nice folks over at The Boston Herald. One concerned the commercialization of Christmas, while the other was a (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek list of New Year resolutions. I'm happy to have had them published (and even happier to have received payment.)
Yesterday, I decided to see if they were interested in something of a political nature. I wrote an analysis of what had thus far transpired during the Republican primaries. I sent it off to the editor who had bought my previous submissions.
"Thanks, but I'll take a pass on this one."
Fair enough. I didn't expect her to buy every bit of writing I sent her way, and I figured selling this one to her might have been a bit more of a longshot than the others. The previous were benign; one was an opinion that few would have an argument with, and the other was a decent laugh. This was serious, political, and it treads upon ground that The Herald may not want trodden. They've already endorsed Mitt Romney, and my piece centered on not automatically buying into those opinions, from some analysts, that Romney has the nomination locked up. Expecting an editor to purchase a piece that somewhat goes against the paper's stated political preference is expecting a bit much. I gave it a shot, though, figuring that if it didn't sell, I could always turn it into a good read here.
And so I have, you lucky dogs! Enjoy my political punditry!
We've Barely Begun
I have a question for those of you who may like to consider yourselves politically astute: Do you know how many delegates are currently pledged to each of the Republican presidential contenders?
You might know the answer, but the odds are against it. Precious little has been said about it in most media outlets. And that’s a shame, as it is the most important part of the entire primary election process.
While some pundits have already declared Mitt Romney the eventual nominee, it should be noted that committed delegates – those won via the processes in Iowa and New Hampshire – amount to approximately 1.7% of the total amount of delegates available. Even if unpledged RNC delegates are counted (that is, those Republican National Committee members who do not have to indicate a candidate preference, but a majority of whom are elected just like pledged delegates) the number of delegates for all of the contenders now comes to only 2.2% of the total.
To declare Romney the winner, at this point, is a bit like predicting the outcome of a baseball game after two outs in the top of the first inning. There’s a long, long way to go. And much can happen during that time.
It takes 1,144 delegates to win the nomination. Here are the numbers of pledged delegates, thus far:
Mitt Romney – 14
Ron Paul – 10
Rick Santorum – 7
Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Perry – 2 each
If we include the number of unpledged RNC delegates, Romney rises to 25. Paul stays in second place, at 10. Santorum moves up a bit, to 8. The other three have a total of 9 between them.
In either scenario, the numbers thus far secured are miniscule. More important to note is that Romney has less than half the total of the small number thus far accounted for. And, since the nomination cannot be won without a majority, that means this thing is still way up in the air, no matter how much some may not want it to be.
Now, I’m not saying that Romney doesn’t have a significantly good start. Perception is mighty important heading into South Carolina and Florida, and the simple fact is that many voters will cast a vote for that candidate they think can win, rather than basing a vote purely on how much they like the stands and opinions of any other. Having won the first two contests, Romney will be perceived by many as the only candidate who has a real chance. But the fact is, he isn’t.
South Carolina will not be a slam dunk, and it is less important, overall, than it has been in years past. Due to the wrangling of certain states, in moving up their primary dates, South Carolina and Florida have had their delegate totals halved from previous years, a penalty imposed by the RNC for their actions. There are only 25 delegates at stake in SC, 11 of which go to the statewide winner and 14 proportioned from the state’s congressional districts. It’s quite possible that the attacks being made on Romney now, from most all of the other candidates (Paul being the lone curious exception) will come home to roost in South Carolina. If so, despite his frontrunner status, Mitt may find himself in a true battle. Some polls show his lead at a rather low 3%, fairly much a statistical tie. If the former Massachusetts governor absorbs a few more Bain body blows over the next week, who knows?
As Damon Runyon once said, “The race may not always be to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.” So, if you make your living via political predictions, it makes sense to tout Romney, the frontrunner, as the eventual victor. However, he hasn’t even won 50% of the delegates thus far available to have been won. We’d all do well to keep that in mind the next time we hear any predictions.
(Jim Sullivan is a former state chair of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party.
To his credit, he now is not, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Soon, with more better stuff.