Around 8:30 pm eastern time last night, MSNBC declared former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford as the winner of the GOP primary run-off in the state’s 1st District over former city council member Curtis Bostic.
Sanford will now face Democratic nominee and sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the general election on May 7th. Early polling has indicated a close race between the two with perhaps a slight edge going to Colbert Busch.
It’s too early to be sure however if her apparent support is merely the result of celebrity by proxy or her message is truly resonating with voters in the 1st District.
Though running as a Democrat it’s obvious she’s aware of the electorate in the area. The 1st district hasn’t sent a Democrat to Congress since before 1980 and Colbert Busch appears to be reaching out to conservative voters in hopes of changing this trend. On her campaign website she pledges to help small businesses create jobs by lowering taxes and cutting waste—unusual rhetoric for most Democrats but necessary in a Repulblican stronghold like South Carolina if she has any hope of winning.
When it comes to satisfying fiscally conservative voters, few have done it as consistently as Mark Sanford. As National Review’s Deroy Murdock noted recently,
So right off the bat, let me just disclose the following: I am a proud Ron Paul supporter. I’ve been aware of Dr. Paul since the turn of the century. I’ve been reading “Texas Straight Talk,” his weekly correspondence, for going on a decade, and have been known, from time to time, to actually call the number that has his weekly, pre-recorded message in order to actually hear the man, in his own words, speak those wonderful words of truth and freedom.
I was involved with the grassroots effort of his 2008 run and donated to that campaign and his congressional campaign as well. Now, four years later, I am currently serving as my county’s coordinator for the Georgia for Ron Paul grassroots group and have made multiple donations to the RP2012 campaign.
Simply put—I’m a fan.
For many out there, the Ron Paul Revolution is all but dead. A minor historical footnote. How wrong these people are. For you see, this thing is still growing. It really is. Despite a virtual, media blackout and more dirty tricks by the GOP establishment than you can shake a stick at, this beautiful, organic phenomenon is still growing.
Let’s start with delegates. FOX News and many other outlets are grossly under-reporting Dr. Paul’s delegate count at around 50; however, CNN, as it has been during this entire cycle, has a more accurate count of 71. But they’re all wrong. We won’t know for sure until all of the district and state conventions wrap up, but Dr. Paul could very well be looking at a count in the several hundreds. It is most likely that the Paul campaign will have a strong majority of delegates in the following states: Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, and several others. Hell, if it goes to a contested convention with multiple ballots, there will be Ron Paul delegates waiting in the wings in the Georgia Delegation. And there are several contests left where Paul could pick up more delegates.
Various media outlets are reporting that Rick Santorum, who received a boost late in the presidental race from social conservatives, is suspending his presidential campaign. The announcement comes just days after Santorum met with prominent conservatives about his campaign and his young daughter’s hospital stay.
Santorum’s decision to put his campaign on hold leaves only Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich as challengers to Mitt Romney, who is, for all intents and purposes, the presumptive Republican nominee.
Various people are debating whether having Gingrich in the race helps or hurts Romney’s chances of reaching 1,144 delegates and clinching the GOP nomination. Many of Santorum’s supporters think that Gingrich is robbing him of delegates that he needs to stop Romney, while Gingrich supporters are arguing that splitting the delegates makes it more difficult for Romney to win. The fact is, it does not matter, because barring finding Romney in bed with a dead girl or live boy, as Edwin Edwards once put it, he has clinched it mathematically.
Taking a look at the current standings, estimated by TheGreenPapers.com we have:
- Romney: 493 - 51%
- Santorum: 235 - 24%
- Gingrich: 157 - 16%
- Paul: 77 - 8%
That’s 962 decided delegates with 1,324 remaining.
With that many delegates remaining, how can it be over?
Well, there are two ways to allocate the delegates that remain. One is by a proportional system where each candidate gets some amount of delegates that are in proportion to each candidates share of the vote. So, if 30 delegates are at stake and three candidates split evenly, each would get 10. The other is winner take all, where the person securing the plurality (the most) of the vote gets all of the delegates.
The winner take all states that remain are: DC, MD, WI, DE, IN, CA, NJ, UT.
If a single candidate gets a majority in the following states, is it winner take all, but proportional otherwise: PR, CT, NY.
Let’s assume that Gingrich and Paul stay in and therefore PR, CT and NY will stay proportional. Of the WTA states, Romney is all but assured victory in DC, DE, CA, NJ, and UT. Together, those are 298 delegates. Being as generous as possible and giving Santorum the other 125 WTA delegates we have:
If you’re like me, you went to bed before the Alaska, Idaho, and North Dakota results started to tricke in. It wasn’t hard to see at that point that last night was a good night for Mitt Romney, though he didn’t deliver the “knock out” punch to end the race quickly. We’re probably going to see this thing drag out between he and Rick Santorum for at least the rest of this month.
Had Romney won in Tennessee, it would be a different story. However, exit polls showed that socially conservative voters came out pretty strong in that state. Additionally, Romney’s win in Ohio was very close. So while he may get to claim the state and it certainly helps with momentum, it shows that he is still just getting by.
Santorum is going to keep trucking. As he said last night, he won a few states and got “silver medals” in others. His biggest issue is money. While his team says they’re willing to take the race all the way to Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, he may not have the resources to get that far.
Of course, Santorum’s biggest obstacle isn’t Romney, it’s Gingrich. Conventional wisdom says that if Gingrich drops out that Santorum will be the beneficiary. That’s probably true, but only to a certain extent. Gingrich was defiant last night, but the writing is on the wall. He’s not going to win, especially after five last place finishes. Yes, he won Georgia, but he didn’t get the 50% needed to take all of his home state’s delegates.
Ron Paul’s strategy of focusing on caucus states hasn’t panned out the way his campaign had hoped. Granted, Paul was strong in several states last night, but he still doesn’t have a win in either a caucus or a primary. But as we’ve said before, Paul’s support has grown substantially since his run four years ago and he can no longer be ignored by Republicans.
We’re coming down to the final days before Republicans in Florida, at least those that didn’t vote early, head to the polls. As you can see below, the numbers provided by Real Clear Politics show that Gingrich has an advantage, but much can change in a short time.
As Jason noted earlier, the results are in — Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has handily taken top honors in the 2011 Ames Straw Poll, edging out Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and obliterating former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty. Bachmann became the first woman in history to win the straw poll in the home of America’s first caucus, according to the National Journal.
Aside from the various problems with straw polls in a general sense, and how poorly the Ames Straw Poll serves as an indicator of eventual primary winners (note: the CPAC straw poll has the same problem), what does this really mean? Probably not much at all.
But that hasn’t stopped the editorial board at USA Today from getting their digs in while they can.
They editorialize, opining the attention “fringe candidates” receive in Iowa:
Of the candidates actively participating this year, only Pawlenty has any kind of background of centrism, and he has taken a right turn since announcing his candidacy. Much of the attention will be on Bachmann, who has been doing well in recent Iowa polls, and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the darling of libertarians.
It looks like the race between Dick Lugar and Richard Mourdock is getting ugly as we get closer to next week’s Republican Senate primary in Indiana. According to the National Review, the two exchanged blows recently with Mourdock questioning whether Lugar will support the eventual nominee and Lugar slamming Mourdock over spending cuts.
But the fight that Lugar has suddenly showed in the race may be too little, too late, as The Fix notes that his allies and PACs that were supporting his campaign are pulling out of the state at the last moment, indicating that his career may indeed be finished:
Lugar’s allies no longer seem interested in beating up the man who could very well be their nominee come November.
The American Action Network, a Republican-backing outside group*, is pulling its ads in support of Lugar off the air Tuesday. “We’ve decided we’re going to let this race play out,” said spokesman Dan Conston.
Lugar had millions of dollars more than Mourdock in the bank. He could have used his overwhelming financial edge to define Mourdock months ago, the way Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) did former Rep. J.D. Hayworth in the 2010 primary while shoring up his own conservative bonafides.
The old conventional wisdom for incumbents — don’t punch down and elevate your opponent — no longer applies.
Given that FreedomWorks had targeted Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) so heavily in the lead up to the Utah GOP convention last week — pointing out his atrocious voting record, which includes voting for half of the national debt during his time in Washington, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the group’s PAC has endorsed Dan Liljenquist, who will square off against Hatch in the June primary:
FreedomWorks for America announced today its endorsement of Dan Liljenquist, candidate for United States Senate representing Utah. Liljenquist won 40.8 percent of the delegate vote at last Saturday’s Utah GOP Convention, denying incumbent Senator Orrin Hatch the 60 percent necessary to avoid a June primary.
“Dan Liljenquist is an energetic fiscal conservative who will take a leading role in spending cuts and the repeal of ObamaCare from day one,” commented Russ Walker, National Political Director for FreedomWorks for America.
“We have been working with Utah conservatives since last May to elect the strongest and most consistent advocate for conservative economic policy, and Dan has proven himself to be the man for the job. He will be a great addition to support fellow Utah Senator Mike Lee expanding the conservative coalition in the Senate.”
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been focusing heavily on primary challenges to Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Dick Lugar (R-IN). This pair represent nearly everything wrong with the Republican Party in Washington as they’ve both been a consistant vote for expanding government and blowing taxpayer dollars.
There is another Senate race that deserve attention, one that we haven’t covered much. Over in Texas, David Dewhurst, who is backed by the GOP establishment nationally and in the state to succeed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, is still leading the pack, but Ted Cruz, who has received support from many of the same conservative grassroots groups backing candidates in other states, is quickly closing in:
Every time [Public Policy Polling] polls Texas the Republican Senate primary gets closer and closer. What was a 29 point lead for David Dewhurst in September has now been cut all the way down to 12 points. Dewhurst is at 38% to 26% for Ted Cruz, 8% for Tom Leppert, and 7% for Craig James.
Cruz’s support has increased from 12% to 18% to 26% over our last three polls. Meanwhile Dewhurst has remained stagnant in the 36-41% range. Cruz’s name recognition has increased from 29% to 48% with Republican primary voters since January and the change has almost all been positive. His favorability’s gone from 15/14 to 31/17. The other candidates have seen just modest gains in name recognition or none at all. Dewhurst’s favorability is 47/22, Leppert’s is 20/15, and James remains more disliked than popular with GOP voters at 14/21.