Skip to comments.Three Lessons from the ‘Beauty Contests’ (MO, MN and CO -- The storyline changes again)
Posted on 02/08/2012 6:08:22 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Did Tuesday’s results matter? Nowhere near as much as the results from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida mattered. But primary campaigns rarely reach stasis; momentum shifts, ebbs, and flows, and the trio of contests yesterday offered a few hints that the storyline will change once again.
Rick Santorum is on the verge of overtaking Newt Gingrich as the anti-Romney alternative.
Santorum began this contest as the man of the hour, the little engine that could in a sweater-vest who challenged and beat the much-better-funded Mitt Romney . . . and yet he has, at the moment, an entire three delegates committed to him. (Iowa’s delegates to the national convention will formally be selected at a state convention on June 16.)
Santorum won no more than 17 percent in any of the subsequent contests, until last night, and he finished with a disappointing 10 percent in Nevada’s caucuses Saturday. Gingrich has declared, with increasing loudness and insistence, that the former Pennsylvania senator should leave the race to unite conservatives behind his candidacy.
Thirty-five days after the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum needed a win — even a purely symbolic win — to remind Republicans nationwide that he was still a serious contender. Tuesday night, he got it. Missouri was called for him first, shortly thereafter Minnesota followed, and in Colorado he looked likely to finish no worse than a close second. His two wins were landslides.
For conservatives hoping to unite behind one Romney rival, Missouri offered a tantalizing look at what the race would be like if Gingrich and Santorum were not splitting that segment of the GOP electorate.
Gingrich was not listed on the Missouri ballot; he and his campaign said that they did not bother to qualify for it because they deemed the nonbinding contest irrelevant. Cynics may notice the Gingrich campaign’s inability to qualify for the ballot in Virginia and wonder just how deliberate their approach to Missouri was.
In the reduced field, Santorum didn’t just win, he thrashed Romney. With 90 percent of precincts reporting, Santorum led in every Missouri county that was reporting results.
Rick Santorum adviser John Brabender told CNBC’s John Harwood: “Missouri tells me that in a clean one-on-one against Romney, we beat him.” Expect to hear a lot of this argument from Santorum and his supporters. You’ll also hear quite a few assertions that Santorum has won three contests to Gingrich’s one; the former speaker and his backers will furiously dispute that any of tonight’s results count as legitimate wins.
“We doubled him up in Missouri and Minnesota!” Santorum exulted in his victory speech last night. He added, “In Massachusetts, your votes were particularly loud tonight!”
Of course, it seems hard to imagine Gingrich voluntarily leaving the race; last night, he told Wolf Blitzer: “I’m certainly in it all the way to the convention.”
Santorum’s support surged dramatically in the final days before the Iowa caucuses, as polling indicated the former senator had a chance to win and would not be regarded as a “wasted vote.” Perhaps the largest obstacle to Santorum’s campaign is clearing that psychological threshold nationally; if so, last night and its consequent surge of funds and volunteers should go a long way.
The next binding, delegate-determining, real contests come February 28 in Michigan and Arizona. While both states will receive intense attention from the remaining campaigns, expect Gingrich and Santorum to go toe-to-toe in Arizona.
The RNC’s efforts to clean up the primary calendar seem only to have muddied things further.
In 2008, Iowa held its caucuses on January 3, a wildly early date. Previous primaries had been held no earlier than January 19 (2004, 1976), and the primary was held in February from 1984 through 1996. In response to the perception that the nomination process began way too early, and to prevent too many states from frontloading it, the RNC ruled that states that held their contests before March 6 would lose half their delegates. (Iowa managed to avoid losing delegates because its caucus was not officially binding; as noted above, the delegates will be picked at the state convention on June 16.)
Five states decided that an early calendar slot was worth losing half their delegates: New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona, and Michigan.
Colorado and Minnesota emulated Iowa by exploiting the loophole in the RNC’s rule. The penalty applied only to states that selected delegates to the convention. Any state could hold two contests — one, a “beauty contest,” before the March 6 threshold, and a second that selected the actual delegates after it.
The result is confusing and, in the eyes of many, wasteful. Colorado’s actual delegates to the Republican nominating convention will be selected at the state convention April 14; Minnesota will select its delegates on the weekend of May 4–5.
Why did Missouri taxpayers pay $7 million for a non-binding primary? In part because the state’s presidential-primary day is decreed under state law to be the first Tuesday in February.
Last year, Democratic governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill that would have moved back the primary date. He said he had no objection to changing the primary but refused to accept a provision of the legislation that would have stripped his power to make appointments to fill vacancies in the U.S. Senate and other statewide offices. In the end, lawmakers could not pass a second bill before the RNC’s October 1 deadline to set primary dates.
With the confusion, it’s an open question whether those who voted on Tuesday will participate in the state’s caucus, which does count, on March 17.
The turnout engine continues to rattle unnervingly.
Perhaps it’s hard to measure turnout for nonbinding contests, and turnout in Colorado was complicated by bad weather. But Tuesday offered nothing to dispel a sinking fear that this crop of candidates cannot generate widespread excitement among Republicans.
One polling place in Missouri had about 10 percent of the normal turnout for a primary in the early hours.
Turnout in 2008’s binding Republican primary in Missouri was 588,720. Turnout last night was lower than 250,000. Binding or not, if Show-Me State Republicans felt passionate about their candidates, they would have turned out in greater numbers to give their man a little boost, even if only a symbolic one. (With more than 135,000 votes in Missouri last night, Santorum can argue he’s coming closest to catching fire, at least at this moment.)
Republican turnout increased slightly in Iowa and New Hampshire over 2008, but much of that appears to have been driven by Ron Paul supporters who may or may not be inclined to support the Republican nominee in November. GOP turnout surged in South Carolina, but then slipped below 2008’s level in Florida, and then plummeted in Nevada this weekend.
The Las Vegas Sun tallied up the depressing numbers: “More than 10,000 fewer Republican voters made it to Saturday morning’s much-trumpeted caucuses than turned out for the underpublicized caucuses of 2008. To put it differently: about 8 percent of the party’s active voter base participated this time, compared with about 11 percent four years ago.”
“They totally embarrassed themselves,” lamented a Republican strategist who worked on one of the statewide races in Nevada last cycle. “I’m surprised by how late candidates focused on it. There was no leadership from the top. Nevada Republicans were handed a gift with a primary this early and they still received almost no attention. . . . Plus there’s a fight that is still to come. The Ron Paul folks smell fraud and conspiracy [in the results, which were not fully counted until Monday morning,] and are freaking out.”
For what it’s worth, the Republican National Committee is tracking those who do turn out in these early contests and planning to use that information for the general-election battle.
“We are watching the early contests and using our mobile campaign and social media in particular to reach out to primary voters to get ready for the general election,” said Sean Spicer, RNC communications director. “We’re also getting ready for the day we have a nominee and unifying as a party to put us in the best position to accomplish that.”
— Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.
Hey! Numbnuts! Romney's support tops out at about 30%. He is thoroughly rejected by the party's base. Have you noticed? Are you paying attention? Still going all-in for Romney? Yeah, I thought so.
When and under what circumstances did Aldo Santorum naturalize?
The newsreader on the local CBS affiliate said that Santorum had ‘halted a string of Romney victories’.
I’m sure this was the language fed to all affiliates.
Can someone remind us all, did Huckabee win anything after Iowa (except probably AR)?
I don’t recall him doing much of anything after Iowa, until a little flurry of activity around one of the big days where the South was sort of in play....
The point being: I think Santorum has already outdone Huckabee. Which “could” mean, that he is a real candidate. I am certainly trying to look on the bright side here....
Every dog has his day.
If he can pull this off in the South, then he’s a contender. Until then he’s a pretender.
2008 Delegate wins by state
According to Wikipedia:
On January 3, 2008, Huckabee won the Iowa Republican Caucuses with 34% of the electorate. On Super Tuesday, Huckabee won an additional 6 states, including most of the Deep South. On March 4, 2008, Mike Huckabee officially ended his campaign by conceding victory of the Republican Presidential Nomination to John McCain.
(1,780 of 1,917)
|Estimated total delegates2
(2,159 of 2,380;
1,191 needed to win)
1 "Primary Season Election Results". The New York Times. (regularly updated). http://politics.nytimes.com/election-guide/2008/results/gopdelegates/index.html.
2 "Election Center 2008 - Republican Delegate Scorecard". CNN. (regularly updated). http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/primaries/results/scorecard/#R.
Thanks. Interesting that Huckabee didn’t win anything in CO, MO or MN. (I understand that Santorum didn’t win any in MO, either). But Santorum did win a few delegates in CO and in MN.
IF Santorum can match Huckabee in the South and in other states like AK, ND, etc...well...he might end up doing something here!
You know why Rick Santorum kicked butt last night. Simple, the GOP rank and file have seen through both Mitt Romney & Newt Gingrich!!! These two bozos, Gingriich & Romney, have done themselves in with their foolish nit picking and have lost site of the real objective of this campaign, the devastating defeat of POTUS Barack Hussein Obama. It is as simple and clear cut as that.
How come Nevada was never described as a non-binding beauty contest? Isn’t it in the exact same boat as Iowa, Colorado and Minnesota as a caucus that selects delegates later down the road? I realize of course it would have hurt the Mittstream media’s Mitt-mentum to play down the Nevada results.
“Gingrich was not listed on the Missouri ballot; he and his campaign said that they did not bother to qualify for it because they deemed the nonbinding contest irrelevant.”
I noticed that. Santorum was on the top of the Republican Ballot, so most likely voted Santorum because he campaigned in MO the other day, so it was the only name they recognized.
GOOD THINGS I NOTICED WHEN VOTING.
In Missouri, you have to have ID. You can vote on a ‘machine’, or you can fill out a paper ballot. I went with the paper.
Besides... we were told that this vote didn’t really mean anything, so WE GET TO VOTE AGAIN. Maybe I’ll get it right the second time.
GO NEWT GO!!!!
“far far away and take pelosi and the couch with you”