Monday, February 20, 2012

Ron Paul's Path To The Presidency: A Brokered Convention

As former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum continues his surge into Michigan, it becomes more and more likely that it will be a brokered 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa come August.  For an unlocked convention to occur, three things must hold true:

1. The Ron Paul 2012 campaign successfully elected its delegates to the non-binding Caucus states;
2. Santorum wins Michigan and continues his sweep of the Midwest and rust belt states; and
3. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich remains in the race through Super Tuesday on March 6.


Non-Binding Caucuses:

There are 293 delegates up for grabs in the non-binding Caucus states.  The Ron Paul 2012 campaign has maintained all along that its supporters have been elected to delegates in the states where Santorum and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won the straw poll 'beauty contests.'  If this is true, Texas Congressman Ron Paul should be able to garner at least 40% (117) of the 293 delegates.

Winner-Take-All:

If Santorum can carry his moment from the Midwest to the winner-take-all California primary in June, Santorum will be able to amass as many winner-take-all state delegates as Romney.  This is especially so if Gingrich's challenge to the winner-take-all Florida delegates is granted at the convention and Romney loses delegates from that decision.

Ballot States:

Gingrich and Santorum failed to be placed on the Virginia ballot.  So a true Mitt vs. anti-Mitt referendum will be held in Virginia on March 6 in a race between only Romney and Paul.  Given the consistent 60% to 40% anti-Mitt voter sentiment, Paul may be able to claim one state victory during this primary race.  Virginia is a proportional delegate state.  But if more than 50% of the state votes for one candidate, it becomes winner-take-all.  In a tight delegate race, Santorum supporters could vote for Paul just to deny Romney any delegates from that state.  A 50% plus win in Virginia would add 49 delegates to Paul's column.

It is unlikely that Santorum made it on the Indiana ballot.  In a three-man race, again using the 60% to 40% anti-Mitt ratio, but this time divided between Gingrich and Paul, the proportional 46 delegate count could look something like: Gingrich 13, Paul 13, and Romney 20.

Proportional Primary, Hybrid, and Binding Caucuses:

After counting the Non-Binding Caucus, Winner-Take-All, and Ballot State delegates, there remains 1,417 delegates that are mostly awarded on a proportional basis.  If current national and regional polling numbers continue with Santorum in the lead, Santorum could edge out Romney slightly in the remaining proportional delegate states.

1,144 To Win:

Gingrich and Paul will be able draw at least 500 combined delegates from the Republican Presidential Primary race.  This leaves only 1,786 of the 2,286 delegates to be dived up between Romney and Santorum.  It is unlikely that either leading candidate will be able to pull the 300+ delegates from the other to obtain the necessary 1,144 delegates to seal the GOP nomination.

Game Changing Events:

Santorum benefited from recent news headlines regarding the court ruling on California's Proposition 8 and the Obama administration's government-mandated reproductive health issues.  Romney is unlikely to have a game-changing news event because voters do not associate Romney with a particular issue because Romney does not associate himself strongly with any particular issue.

The only news events on the horizon would seem to benefit Paul's message if war with Iran pushes gas above $5 a gallon which in turn creates more inflation while crippling a financially weak Europe and ultimately triggering another global financial crisis.

Gingrich could drop out of the race if, contrary to current polls, he has a terrible showing in the Super Tuesday southern states.

Brokered Convention:

While Romney's main selling point months ago was that he was the most electable, this is no longer the case as his polling numbers have plummeted recently in a match up with Obama. When it comes to electability, the only numbers that will matter at the Republican National Convention are the Obama vs. each remaining GOP candidate from polls conducted just before the convention.  

Romney's campaign is presented with a quandary - the more he has to outspend his GOP rivals with negative attack ads, the more Romney's likeability numbers go down.  In a drawn out primary election, Romney's likeability, and corresponding electability, will continue to slide if he continues the barrage of negative attack ads against his opponents.

Santorum faces a different challenge.  He will have to move to the center this summer to try to improve his numbers in a match up with Obama while not alienating his conservative base.  If Santorum trails the President by double digits during the convention, it will be unlikely that he is chosen as the party's nominee.

Gingrich has consistently trailed the President by double digits.  But Gingrich is also full of surprises, and the convention is still months away.

The hope for Paul is that he has enough delegate supporters at the brokered convention, that once their votes are unlocked, they immediately move their support to Paul.  Paul would also have to have better polling numbers against Obama than any other GOP rival in the weeks leading up to the convention.

The key to Paul winning at the convention is that his supporters continue to be elected as delegates in the upcoming states, including the states where he is predicted to not even come close to winning.

Non-Binding Caucus     Winner-Take All    VA IN       ProportionalTOTAL

Gingrich 10%    30      23 (SC)   0        13            203269
Paul40%  117       0            49        13            175354
Romney25%    73        242 (Inc. FL)  0        20           497832
Santorum25%    73   216          0          0            542831