Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Imagining the biggest mess possible...

Kind of a big day in the Presidential race today...primaries in Michigan and Arizona and a seemingly razor-thin margin between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in both. And this serves as a prelude to next Tuesday, when something like 10 states (including Massachusetts) vote all at once.

I am not sure there has ever really been a race like this one (and not just because they seem to be catering to a segment of people who are morally opposed to condoms...seriously?!?). There have been races that have gone really deep into the primary calendar, and the Democrats went until almost June in 2008...but to have four candidates still at least moderately viable? That seems unprecedented to me. And it doesn't look likely to be solved in the next week...

Romney is still the favorite, although that status is tenuous, and losing Michigan would be really hard for him to overcome. But assuming he wins both today, albeit close, he stands to win another couple of states next week and probably will remain as the leader.

Santorum seems to have the momentum, despite what appears to be his new goal to "Say one thing every day that is dumber than the dumbest thing I said yesterday!" If he wins Michigan, he becomes the absolute clear cut favorite, and if he wins Arizona, too, then it will be hard to see anyone else winning. And he will probably win a couple of states next week, too.

New Gingrich appears to have run his course, but he also doesn't look to drop out any time soon. He will certainly win Georgia next week (which will have offer the most delegates of any state that has voted so far) and will likely win Tennessee as well. It is hard to see how he ends up as the nominee, but it is easy to see him sticking around for another month or so.

Which brings us to Ron Paul (and then to the big payoff of this blog...I promise:-)). He hasn't won any states yet, but by some counts, he is in second place. Why "some counts" you ask? Because, due to the absurdities of caucuses, no one really knows what the score is right now. Sure, people have voted and the votes have been counted, but the actual delegate count is very much up in the air. Once this makes sense to me, I will explain it to you...

Paul may or may not win any states this week or next, but if he can last long enough, he will very likely win the biggest prize in the GOP primary mid-season: Texas. And he could do very well in California, too. Is it possible to win the nomination without winning more than two or three states? I dunno...seems weird.

Which gets us to the final note here...Texas. The second biggest state in the country, and the second biggest delegate count, it will be the biggest primary before June (CA is on June 5) by a really wide margin. That is, of course, if they actually have it.

You see, there is a problem in Texas: the congressional re-redistricting plan has been challenged in court, and the primary can not take place before that is resolved. Originally scheduled for April 3rd, it will almost certainly be pushed back to May 29th, and should the lawsuit drag even further, it may have to be pushed back even further.

So, while there has been some talk about a "brokered convention" (which can't really happen in today's environment, but we could very well have an unclear nominee when the convention starts) because no one gets to the number of delegates needed...my question is: "What happens if it is not totally clear how many delegates are needed?" What if, say, Romney has 1,100 delegates but Texas hasn't voted yet. Does he win because he has more than half of the delegates assigned, or does he still need 1,144? Does Texas actually lose its delegates, or does the state party get the right to assign them as they see fit? What if they decide to give all 155 of them to Texan Ron Paul, and that is enough to either push him over the top, or at least to pull him into a virtual tie with between one and three others?

Or even better, what if there is no nominee, and the courts have pushed back the Texas primary until AFTER the convention? Can that even happen? Probably not...I am just dreaming up drama right now...

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