Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sometimes They Buy What You're Selling, Sometimes They Don't

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.

Her response?

"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


Soon, with more better stuff.


Jackie said...

I keep remembering the predicitons for the Denver/Pittsburg game.
It's not over until it's over.

skywind said...

Sometimes, we don't even know why we want to buy something.

Craig said...

Well, of course. Lot of water left to go under the dam before the election (or is that over the bridge? I can never keep 'em straight. . .)

There was a time when I was WAY more politically engaged than what I am these days. These primaries seem about as ill-suited as they possibly can be to do what they're supposed to do - put forth a serious candidate for the office of President. It's all photo-ops and sound-bites, and what little substance there is, gets drowned out in the talking-head commentary.


But hey, we know a thing or two about Romneys in this state, Mitt's daddy having been our guv, once upon a time. . .

Tabor said...

The editor should have published the article. He/She already made their call, but the articles should not all be one sided if it is indeed a real newspaper. Freedom of the Press is complicated. I did not know how small the numbers were...but I am not amazed.

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

Nobody's selling anything I want... at least not in a single package.

That said, I see absolutely nothing about what you wrote that would in any way detract from the newspaper's endorsement.

While I'm at it... it appears that there's some 6% of folks polled in SC who aren't taking this primary election all that seriously.

Chris said...

I have a hard time taking a guy seriously when it sounds like he was named by the president of Rawlings.

stephen Hayes said...

I'm a bit of a political junkie although I don't deal with politics too much in my blog. But I greatly enjoyed your article. Quite an interesting perspective.

Suldog said...

Tabor - I appreciate your very nice words, but I don't blame her in any way for not buying my stuff. It's always a subjective call, so I'm pleased as punch when I make a sale and not personally offended when it doesn't sell.

When I say that the paper endorsed Romney, perhaps I wasn't putting it in strong enough terms. They have not only endorsed him, but have made some bit of effort to proselytize, too. Any opinion that might cast doubt concerning their boy's eventual victory would not start in most instances, so that's the way it is and I have no problem with that (at least insofar as my writing sales are concerned.)

Michelle H. said...

When someone talks politics, my eyes glaze over. So I struggled a bit. My opinion of the thing is that I hope Rick Santorum doesn't get in.

Otherwise, you can't go against the paper, even in an op-ed piece. If they had accepted your article, it would have made it look like they are unbiased. Media outlets aren't allowed to walk the political line and take an objective view.

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

It used to be if you couldn't get your stuff (not exactly YOUR stuff, but anybody's stuff) published, you'd just go start your own newspaper.
Now anyone can publish if they have access to the innerwebs. Some are pretty good and others are named Blogs of Note (I couldn't resist)

notactuallygod said...

Most of them; Romney, Paul, Gingrich and Perry have too many glaring flaws/vulnerabilities to win in a general election. I didn't think Obama would get a second term until I saw the pack of stiffs looking to unseat him.

Daryl said...

This was like a sports post, I think I'll leave the clever quippery to the others .. me, I just want to ask America: when will you find your short term (no pun intended)memory and remember how we got into this mess?

Buck said...

The way we choose presidential candidates in this country is just frickin' absurd. Or at least it is THIS year, where the GOP is concerned.

Jim Sullivan is a former state chair of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party.
To his credit, he now is not...

Heh. Double-Heh.

messymimi said...

Excellently put.

lime said...

it's a shame they passed since you're really just pointing out mathematical fact and suggesting that voters engage their brains.

now please excuse me a brief rant regarding more brainless sheep behavior in media coverage and voting...

1. i can't stand listening to the media about how the GOP is only concerned with finding a candidate capable of beating obama. call me a crazy idealist but shouldn't any party be fielding a candidate who is a competent leader of this nation? the whole question is framed entirely incorrectly if the question is who can merely win. it highlights what i find broken beyond repair about our system...2 parties who only care about control, not about the welfare of the nation and her people.

2. it's absurd that primaries are on all different days. it feeds that whole media circus about who is ahead and people voting for the perceived winner. just like the general election have all the primaries on the same day when it comes to a presidential election.

3. no coverage of polls returns until the last poll in hawaii closes. (and yes, i know THAT has a snowball's chance in hell of ever being considered)

ok, maybe it wasn't brief but there ya have it.

Anonymous said...

I echo what Lime said. You both make good points. I don't have much taste for politics and I don't have a head for figures. It's interesting to see the numbers in print, rather than listening to the talking heads.

Keep sending stuff out there. I think eventually you will get picked up as a regular columnist somewhere.

Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

I look at these primaries like a horse race and you just know that lead horse rarely keeps the pace the entire race. However it falls, I just hope there is a better VP candidate than the last one.

Char said...

Ah, sweet freedom of the press. Its their loss.

Sueann said...

Actually I really don't care who is ahead...because our choices are lame! Seriously!
Just saying

The Broad said...

I learned my lesson at the last election's primaries -- I never thought Obama had a chance. "It's not over till the fat lady sings" as a wise man in Boston once said...

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

It's too bad the wolf has left our county. Now politics will grab the headlines here again... except on my blog. I don't have a clue about what to post.
I think I'll call this comment Herman (IYKWIM)

Cricket said...

Heh, heh.

Well, you know where I stand on things political. Myself, since Citizens United and all, I think politicians, and maybe even parties and primaries, should start accepting overt corporate sponsorship. I mean, everything is now the TDBanknorthFleetCenter or whateverthehell? Let's see who's paying the bills right up front.

For this Republican primary, I suggest Massengill, 'cos you won't find a bigger bunch of douchebags outside of the feminine hygiene aisle.

"Good evening and welcome to the Massengill Republican primary coverage..."

Has a ring to it.

Cricket said...

p.s. - I will make a qualified exception to the overall d-baggery for Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman, and Buddy Roemer. Of course, none of them are going to win, I think, due to their failure to out-douche the others.

And Newt Gingrich, the political equivalent of that moldy slice of meatloaf you left in the back of the fridge and forgot about, counts triple anyway. Who the hell wants to reheat that? Nevermind think about actually eating it?

IT (aka Ivan Toblog) said...

I'm with Cricket... on both comments

Reena said...

I'm a true cynic when it comes to the media ... but as they say "it's not over until the fat lady sings ..."

Shrinky said...

Wish I understood American politics..(shrug). I barely grasp our Island elections, and we're a self-governing pop of c. 70,000!

But hey, congrats on the paid work - and not before time, either!

Ami said...

Interesting article, really. I learned from it.

But I truly believe that the elections are rigged and full of fraud and things that I can only describe adequately through the use of profanity.

If voting actually changed anything, it would not be legal.

silly rabbit said...

Politics make me want to hide. But I have to be informed to make a wise choice, so I follow. Right now we are still in the totally stupid phase.

i beati said...

I personally think they are trying to close the gap to get someone to beat the .... in the white house- that is the reason for this pushing forward. This is making Republicans look terribly unsure and we had better be sure- that is a real problem in the WH..

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Interestins stuff but ALL the candidates seem very flawed. Frightening!

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip said...

I think the last candidate without any flaws came around about 2000 years ago. Any further discussion would involve mixing politics and religion with the mathematics of the post. That's way too volatile.

Anonymous said...

They should have printed it, but I'm not surprised they didn't, considering they obviously have their own agenda to push. It's very sad that the focus is on who can beat Obama rather than on what the candidates stand for.
Do they have an (unpaid) area, such as Dear Editor, where you could have this published?

Clare Dunn said...

I can't comment on this post...I have a difficult enough time looking intelligent, and I don't want to skew my rep with your followers.

So, a different subject! "Dunes II"
has been shipped, and should arrive within the next few days. I'm tracking it, and it left the Boston facility on Jan 14, so there!

Suldog said...


I could send it as a letter to the editor, but my pride won't let me, seeing as how I've now been paid for two pieces. I might try another outlet, though (maybe The Boston Globe.)