Swing State Pres

Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 03 07 March Post Super Tuesday

Some of you may remember that muddy day in 1965 when Gale Sayers of the Bears zigzagged his way to 6 touchdowns in the mud against the 49ers.  On each touchdown he seemed to cover more ground going sideline-to-sideline than forward, confounding would-be tacklers and viewers alike.  A performance forever memorialized by NFL Films and now by YouTube.  Check it out!

What’s the relevance of this?  This campaign has changed directions even more than Sayers did on that amazing day.  An incredible Super Tuesday, capped by a crazy Ohio race, which was a Gale Sayers run (maybe that late-game punt return!) all by itself.  Super Tuesday was a microcosm of the entire campaign in one night; indeed, so was Ohio all by itself.

Romney took the “early show,” winning Massachusetts, Vermont and Virginia (the latter a little closer than expected, running only against Ron Paul, he won 59-41) by 8 PM.  That was the last good news for Mitt for over three hours!

Santorum countered with a surprisingly easy win in Tennessee, a state where Romney seemed to be closing the gap fast in the polling, but Santorum won quickly, ultimately by 9 points.  He then won Oklahoma by 6.  Gingrich won home state Georgia easily, as expected.

And then came the Ohio watch….Romney was up by a few points in the early returns, but then suddenly at about 9:15 Santorum took a 3-pt lead and held on to it for an hour-plus.  But then at around 10:40, his margin started narrowing.  Eric Schrier and I had a great set of emails: ”it’s now 7,000”.  “Now 2500!”...”2000!”…oh wow Romney’s now ahead by 1800!!!”  Suddenly Ohio was beginning to feel like Iowa…or Florida in 2000!  Chuck Todd of MSNBC started talking about a possible recount.  Finally Romney pulled ahead at 11:08 and MSNBC called it at about 12:30.  Romney won it by a single point, 38%-37%, about a 12,000 vote margin out of over 1,000,000 votes cast (not close enough for a recount, by the way).

During that run, Santorum took North Dakota and Romney picked up Idaho, as they continued to slug it out state for state.  Finally, overnight, Alaska was a close three-person battle that Romney won by 3 over Santorum, with Paul in third.

So with the Ohio win, Romney avoided a disaster.  This is also the perfect outcome for the “tightrope” theory, in which Romney does poorly enough to keep the race with the anti-Romney’s (Santorum, Gingrich) alive, but just well enough to keep the critics who want another entrant (Christie, Jeb Bush, Daniels) at bay.

Barack Obama provided a fairly clear signal at his press conference yesterday that he likes this strategy.  He was asked if he had anything to say to Mitt Romney, and he flashed a huge smile and said “Good luck!”  And then he paused, looked pointedly at the questioner, and said, “Really!”  Wendy and I thought he clearly was signaling that he wanted Romney to win the nomination, and be able to take him on in all sorts of ways, including his position on Iran.

Delegates

According to the New York Times, Romney received 211 delegates, Santorum 84, Gingrich 72 and Paul 22, the rest not allocated yet.  Clearly a big math win for Mitt, even if the headlines are touting the night as “mixed” and not a knockout blow.

Mitt now has over 400 delegates and a commanding lead over Santorum, 415-176 by the Times count.  He also has about half the delegates so far, and that’s what it will take to eke over the 1,144 mark.  

Fun and Games

Kudos to Larry Levit, who correctly called ALL TEN WINNERS!  Amazing performance….I missed Alaska, Steve missed Alaska and Ohio and Eric missed Alaska, Tennessee and Ohio.  But congrats to Eric, too, for excellence in forecasting, winning all three contests that we forecasted….he, Larry and I tied in Ohio, he and I tied in Tennessee, but he won outright in Oklahoma to take the title!

Going Forward

What happens now?  

For the first time since 1976, we are actually still paying attention to the Republican race past Super Tuesday.  Not since the ‘76 Ford-Reagan slugfest, which Ford finally won at the convention, has a race been open this long.

And, to make it even more compelling, the next month is NOT GOOD for Mitt.  There will be 14 contests between March 10th and April 3rd, with 611 delegates at stake….and none of those contests are in the Northeast, and only one, Hawaii, in the West.  The rest are in “anti-Romney” land, including a whole slew in the South:  Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Missouri (343 delegates right there).  Here is the schedule…

10-Mar
Kansas
Cau
40
H
10-Mar
Virgin Islands
Cau
9
NB
13-Mar
Alabama
Pri
50
P
13-Mar
American Samoa
Cau
9
P
13-Mar
Hawaii
Cau
20
P
13-Mar
Mississippi
Pri
40
P
17-Mar
Missouri
Cau
52
NB
18-Mar
Puerto Rico
Cau
23
WTA
20-Mar
Illinois
Pri
69
E
24-Mar
Louisiana
Pri
46
P
3-Apr
Maryland
Pri
37
WTA
3-Apr
Texas
Pri
155
P
3-Apr
District of Columbia
Pri
19
WTA
3-Apr
Wisconsin
Pri
42
WTA


I think there may be increasing pressure on Gingrich to drop out.  It is not a good showing to win (only) Georgia and do no better than third anywhere else.  But I bet he’ll stay in….it’s too tempting for him to compete in Alabama and Mississippi and the other Southern states to quit now.  He still thinks he has another surge!

The odds heavily favor Romney in the War of Attrition, and, as I said, he did do well enough by winning Ohio and four other states to quell the doubters among the Republican establishment.  No calls to the sidelines for Messieurs Christie, Bush or Daniels….yet.

First up, there are two caucuses on Saturday night March 10, Kansas and the Virgin Islands.  Caucuses are very difficult to predict, but generally they have not been kind to Romney.  Kansas sounds more like it’s Santorum-friendly.

See you then!

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