The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Mathematical Impossibilities Happen

Posted on | March 14, 2012 | 42 Comments

“Rick Santorum charged of out Tuesday’s wins in the South with a fresh claim to being the chosen son of the Republicans’ conservative flank. Mitt Romney limped out with something that could endure longer: an enhanced lead in delegates.
“Under the cruel math of the prolonged GOP primary race, Mr. Santorum’s victories in Alabama and Mississippi were more than negated by late-night Romney wins far to the west in the Pacific Ocean, in caucuses in Hawaii and American Samoa.”

Neil King Jr., Wall Street Journal

“If Newt Gingrich drops out of the GOP primary after losing in Alabama and Mississippi yesterday, it could enable Rick Santorum to unite conservatives against Mitt Romney.”
Greg Sargent, Washington Post

“As it turned out, the Lindsay campaign was fatally flawed from the start. It was all tip and no iceberg — the exact opposite of the slow-building McGovern juggernaut — but back in February it was still considered very shrewd and avant-garde to assume that the most important factor in a presidential campaign was a good ‘media candidate.’ If he had Star Quality, the rest would take care of itself.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72

Went to bed last night — actually, about 3 o’clock this morning — happy to know that Rick Santorum had won Alabama and Mississippi and was on his way to a second-place finish in Hawaii.

And I woke up with a feeling of dread: Today is the day that I have to go through my travel records and gather up my expense receipts from 2011, because my wife has made an appointment Thursday for us to get our taxes done. The Beatles wrote a song about this.

Piled atop the tax-time misery, however, was the Fear and Loathing of what I was certain I’d encounter when I logged on this morning: Romneyites gloating about the delegate count.

Damn those Samoans! Damn them all to hell, I say!

Let Charles Johnson denounce me as an anti-Samoan bigot, I don’t care. Those island bastards put a smile on Jennifer Rubin’s smug face:

According to the Associated Press delegate count, Mitt Romney won 42 delegates last night to 38 for Rick Santorum. By winning nine delegates in American Samoa and 45 percent of the vote in Hawaii, Romney wiped out Rick Santorum’s narrow wins in the Deep South. And, just like Saturday, when Santorum won Kansas and lost ground to Romney, today Santorum’s task to get to 1,114 delegates (as he promised last night he would) is that much harder. …
Math, like gravity, can’t be ignored. . . .
There are 1,358 delegates yet to be awarded. Romney has 495. He needs 694 delegates, less than 48 percent of the remaining delegates, to wrap it up.

Evil Blogger Lady pointed out this Rubin-Romney gloatfest, and all the other Romneyites — including Hugh “Guess Who This Helps?” Hewitt — have joined in. Permit me, then, to piss in their cornflakes.

If you subtract nine Samoan delegates from Tuesday’s results, this seemingly inexorable March Toward Mittdom starts sliding back the other way, and we have passed the point in the schedule where Romney can keep padding his lead by scooping up uncontested delegates in farflung territories. Mitt’s got those 36 delegates from Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Marianas Islands and I’m sure they’ll all have a good time in Tampa, but the territorial RINO good times are over, baby.

Rick Santorum left Louisiana last night and flew to Puerto Rico for two days of campaigning. Puerto Rico votes Sunday, they’ve got 23 delegates and, while I’m not a Michael Barrone-type expert on stuff like this, do you think there might some Catholic voters in Puerto Rico?

Do you see what I’m talking about here? Rubin and Hewitt and all Mitt’s “inevitability”-mongers keep making the same mistake: They’re extrapolating the trend forward, as if this trend were a fixed factor in a polynomial equation and the actual campaign — you know, candidates giving speeches, shaking hands with voters and stuff like that — didn’t make any difference at all.

Subtract the human factor from politics, reduce it to an algebraic formula, and all this “campaign” stuff doesn’t mean a damn thing. But you can’t reduce politics to a matter of mathematical calculation, because politics is about people, and the human factor is a variable that has a funny way of screwing up all that elaborate math. Here’s a recent prediction from Mr. Inevitable:

“We’re going to win tomorrow” in Alabama — that’s what Mitt said Monday in Mobile, but Tuesday night on CNN, Romney’s top strategist Eric Ferhnstrom said: “I don’t think anybody expected Mitt to win Alabama or Mississippi.” Really, Eric? So Mitt was lying Monday?

Never mind. My point is that there are human variables in this equation, factors whose impact on the campaign can’t be safely predicted, and that among these factors is what the mercurial Newt Gingrich will do once he realizes he’s irretrievablty screwed:

A senior adviser to Newt Gingrich told The Huffington Post Tuesday night the campaign likes the idea of Rick Santorum and Gingrich running on the same ticket for the presidency and vice presidency.
“Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would make a powerful team against Barack Obama,” the adviser said on the condition that his name not be used. “They have the capability to deny Gov. Romney the nomination.”
The proposal comes after rumors of a Gingrich alliance with Texas Gov. Rick Perry surfaced earlier this week. It does not come off as a sign of confidence.

Indeed not. Gingrich is drowning and grasping desperately for anything that might keep him afloat, and I still haven’t seen Newt’s February fundraising numbers. Has anybody else? Gingrich ended January with $1.79 million cash-on-hand and $1.73 million in debt. My hunch is that Newt’s money situation was a net negative in February, that his campaign spent more than it took in during the month and that therefore, as of March 1, Gingrich’s campaign debt exceeded his cash-on-hand total, probably by a fairly hefty six-figure sum.

If Newt’s campaign is now a half-million dollars in the red — and that’s just a hunch, but I’d say it’s an educated hunch — then this talk of joining forces with some other conservative candidate to form an anti-Romney alliance is just noise intended to confuse people and distract them from how truly desperate Gingrich’s situation has become. Sheldon Adelson is not distracted, however:

The key question is whether the pro-Newt super PAC will be able to continue operating. The super PAC’s operations have been largely funded by billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose money has effectively kept Gingrich’s candidacy afloat.
John Harwood of the New York Times last night quoted a friend of Adelson saying that he had written his “last check.”
I just checked in with Rick Tyler, the head of the pro-Newt super PAC . Asked if he could continue operating without Adelson’s money, Tyler conceded: “Fundraising will be challenging.”

And never mind that for now, either. My math skills may not be quite as advanced as Jen Rubin’s, but if there are 1,358 delegates yet to be awarded, and Rick Santorum already has 252 delegates, then to get the remaining 892 delegates needed for the magic number of 1,144, Santorum needs to win roughly two-thirds from here on out.

Mathematically impossible? Sure, if all you care about is math. But if Santorum wins a few more surprises as big as his wins Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi, and nudges Romney under that 48% “inevitabiility” mark that Rubin throws around so blithely, the convention in Tampa is going to be more fun than a barrel full of Samoans. Which reminds me:

  • I need to get in touch with the RNC and check on my credentials for the convention; and
  • You should hit the tip jar so I can get back on the campaign trail.

Staying home Tuesday night didn’t bother me much. After the bummer in Michigan and the near-miss in Ohio — and Andrew Breitbart’s death in between — I probably needed to chill out a while. Also, I’ve got to sort through all those receipts and endure the tax-time ordeal, but after next Tuesday’s vote in Illinois, I’d like to head down to Louisiana for their March 24 primary, and so your contributions to the Shoe Leather Fund are earnestly solicited.

Meanwhile, speaking of mathematical impossibilities, I managed to crank out another column for the American Spectator today:

“We did it again.” So began Rick Santorum’s victory speech in LaFayette, Louisiana, where he was celebrating two victories none of the experts had predicted. The former Pennsylvania senator has now won 10 states, but his victories Tuesday in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries might have been his biggest surprises so far.
Santorum spent so many months as the hopeless underdog of the Republican presidential field that his successes always seem to surprise the experts, who counted him out of contention before the campaign ever began. The experts never gave him a chance to win the Iowa caucuses until he won on January 3. The experts wrote that off as a fluke, and another 35 days passed before Santorum won again — a triple victory February 7 in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado. That was likewise counted as insignificant, and all the experts accepted the explanation from the Mitt Romney campaign that these were insignificant “non-binding” contests which made no difference to the former Massachusetts governor’s status as front-runner. A week ago, on Super Tuesday, Santorum won three of the 10 states that held contests. The next day in Boston, the Romney campaign gathered the press corps for a briefing where top aides explained that the mathematics of the delegate count made their candidate all but certain to win the GOP nomination. As one of the aides said, it would take “an act of God” for Romney to lose. . . .

Please read the whole thing because, however unlikely it might seem that I will become the first U.S. Ambassador to Vanuatu, it’s certainly not a mathematical impossibility.




42 Responses to “Memo From the National Affairs Desk: Mathematical Impossibilities Happen”

  1. William T Quick
    March 14th, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    At Red State, they run the actual numbers from here on out:

    If Newt wants to stop Romney, Newt Should Drop out and endorse Santorum On March 16 | RedState

    Short take: Mitt is by no means a lock, even now, in a two way against Santorum.

  2. robertstacymccain
    March 14th, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

    Their certainty that Romney will win here in Maryland could be misplaced. Team Santorum is already planning its Maryland campaign, and the Mittsters may be in for a surprise.

  3. Adjoran
    March 14th, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

    If the campaign won’t even return your phone calls, I’d guess the Ambassadorship is about as likely as Santorum winning the nomination.

    But, yeah, math doesn’t count.  ’cause it’s hard and stuff.

  4. paulzummo
    March 14th, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

    I just tweeted this, but this is a nifty little tool for trying to calculate the delegates that are remaining.  My hunch is nobody quite gets to 1,144, but we’ll see.

    And indeed Maryland could surprise some people.

  5. Confutus
    March 14th, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

    Romney has a clear advantage, but not a lock yet. On the other hand, the bold predictions of increasing Santorum momentum on the base of rather narrow margins of victory are also suspicious.   

  6. richard mcenroe
    March 14th, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

    The more Romney talks the less he seems to have to say, and the greater the discrepancy between what he does say and the record of his actual deeds.

    Meanwhile, his pony’s only trick is a constant incontinent stream of negative advertising, which might have worked in a short burst if he could have knocked Santorum and Gingrich out early.  But he hasn’t, and now every day he persists with the Meg Whitman-fu he is poisoning the well for the general election.

  7. nottd
    March 14th, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

    “McGovern juggernaut”.  Not a phrase that falls lightly from the tongue – especially given its ultimate fate.

  8. McGehee
    March 14th, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

    After seeing “mathematical impossibilities” in the title the first sentence of the third blockquote up yonder had me thinking it was about Lindsey Graham.

    That Hunter S. Thompson was a damn prophet!

  9. Lloyd Albano
    March 14th, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

    The Newtquit saga requires some finesse, which Santorum seems to be employing, specifically not calling for him to quit, just for his supporters to join team Santorum. I think that even were Newt to stay on, it wouldn’t really matter. The writing’s now on the wall and the voters can read. If we put those 141 “uncommitted” delegates in Santo’s column after Newt quits AND endorses, that makes 377 to 496 for Mitty. Striking distance. The main import of a Newt withdrawal will come in the “winner take all states” like Wisconsin, NY and California. Remember the Newt vote splits 2 to 1 for Santo which is just about enough to push him ahead of Mitt in the more moderate RINO influenced states like California or at least in a chunck of the CDs.

  10. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

    >” Romneyites gloating about the delegate count”

    I don’t think that taking note of reality constitutes”‘gloating”. If you do think that then perhaps your emotions are overriding your reason.

    Next up is Puerto Rico. It’s an open primary. Once again the Democratic Party is throwing its weight behind Rick Santorum.

  11. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

    >”  My hunch is nobody quite gets to 1,144″

    Then we lose in November.

  12. paulzummo
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

    Why?  I’m not saying a brokered convention is a great thing, but I don’t think it would seal the party’s fate in the general.

  13. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    >” If you subtract nine Samoan delegates from Tuesday’s results, this
    seemingly inexorable March Toward Mittdom starts sliding back the other

    Ha  ha. And if you subtract Santorum’ win in Tennessee, then yada yada.

    >”do you think there might some Catholic voters in Puerto Rico?”

    I think they have plenty of Democratic voters in Puerto Rico, and THEY are the ones Santorum is counting on. Romney has consistently beaten Santorum among Catholics.

  14. rosalie
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

    I belieive he’s talking more and saying less because he figured he’d have the whole thing sewn up by now.  He didn’t count on having to prove himself.

  15. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    >”  if Santorum wins a few more surprises as big as his wins Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi”

    His “big” wins in those two states seem to have resulted – subject to final counts – in his picking up a net eight delegates on Romney. In those two states: he lost ground overall on the night.

    When you are behind by about 250 delegates, as Santorum is, then picking up a net eight delegates in two states where you win is a very poor result. 

    You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.  And the facts you are presenting on this site border on the dishonest.

  16. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

     Who is going to support a candidate picked by some guys in a back room?

    If the brokered convention you want to see takes place, and they pick Romney, all the people who currently hate Romney will have a stroke.

    Even if they picked somebody  I like – Jim DeMint, for instance – the fact is that whoever gets picked in a brokered convention is going to be compromised by the charge that “he could not win through the elective process”. It is the worst possible outcome.

  17. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    >” the near-miss in Ohio … [Santorums] big wins Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi…’

    Romney beat Santorum in Ohio by 38 delegates to 21. Nothing “near” about it.

    I don’t see any hard numbers for Alabama yet, but in Mississippi it looks like Santrorum and Romney got 13 delegates apiece.

  18. Tennwriter
    March 14th, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

    Not as bas as letting Romney have it.

  19. Tennwriter
    March 14th, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

    Oh, so TN is less important than American Samoa?  No? Then your point need crutches. 🙂

  20. Pathfinder's wife
    March 14th, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

    and in the process of getting those delegates Romney makes goofball errors like the “I’m liking grits and starting to say ‘y’all’ now” — wtf?!
    Plus trying to push the meme that American Samoa (while certainly important) is somehow more important than the outcome in an actual state.  
    Plus the whole “you have to start accepting Romney; he’s inevitable” — uhm, shouldn’t it be the other way around?  Shouldn’t Romney start realizing that he is forgetting a fairly important segment of his potential voting base if he should win this?  Shouldn’t he be reaching out to these people, and not in a hokey (and dare I say obnoxiously condescending if not downright arrogant) “I now like grits!” fashion?  (stop and think how this comes across in the MSM; how this too can be used — Romney supporters, you are not helping your canidate’s chances with this, by the way)

    Come on! Romney may win this, probably will (probably not ‘for sure’), but this doesn’t bode well.  In the process of winning, he’s losing — and that isn’t winning.

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  22. Charles
    March 14th, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

    I’ve crunched the numbers. Rick Santorum can take this by either (a) winning 67% of the remaining delegates or (b) preventing Mitt Romney from winning more than 47% of the remaining delegates.

    Neither one of those strikes me as impossible. And with Mitt only winning 53% of the delegates so far, Rick has only to clip Mitt’s wings a bit to achieve (b) and (b) is on the road to (a).

    Can Santorum do it? That’s the question.

  23. richard mcenroe
    March 14th, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

     You forget the malice that lurks in our Newt’s black little soul.  I think he’s perfectly capable of trying to throw his delegates to Romney as payback.  Dunno if the rules let him do it, but…

  24. richard mcenroe
    March 14th, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

     When I listen to the Romneyites gloating about their lead in the delegate count this early in the game, I remember all those games the LA Clippers used to go into the fourth quarter of with a solid lead…

  25. Pathfinder's wife
    March 14th, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    ah, here’s a great example of what I’m talking about: “Some who are very conservative may not yet be in my camp, but they will be when I become the nominee, when I face Barack Obama. ”

    In other words: screw these bitter clinging rubes; they’ll vote for me in November because they have no other choice (yes, yes, that’s the message; that’ll make people turn out to support you Mitt, and of course you will obviously be the nom Mitt, of course; you are the chosen one).

    …and besides he’s just so great a businessman that he’s the only one who can “fix” the economy…
    Ok, I’m not a businesswoman, so I’m probably all wet here, but isn’t a president who “fixes” the economy how we got into this mess?
    Maybe I’m just being a stupid, bitter rube.

    pazzi merda

  26. richard mcenroe
    March 14th, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

     So, the Democrats’ brilliant plan is to throw their weight behind a Catholic conservative at the same time their candidate is infuriating Christians across the board…?

    Shhh… never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake (N. Bonaparte)

  27. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

    >” and in the process of getting those delegates Romney makes goofball
    errors like the “I’m liking grits and starting to say ‘y’all’ now” —

    I’ m talking to a stupid person here.

    >”Shouldn’t he be reaching out to these people  .?”

    And what, in your mind, would his “reaching out to these people” look like?

    “I now like grits!”

    Jesus Christ, woman, it was a fucking joke! Are you REALLY this fucking stupid?

    I think that the depressing answer is that yes, you are.

  28. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

    >” Maybe I’m just being a stupid, bitter rube.”

    Ain’t that the truth.

    “Some who are very conservative may not yet be in my camp

    You’re not “very conservative”, you clown.

  29. Beeblebrox
    March 14th, 2012 @ 9:07 pm

    Good metaphor.  Here’s mine; the Ambassadorship is as likely as Romney winning the WH if he can actually get the nomination.

    At the rate Mitt is going, he’s John McCain walking.

  30. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

     >”Rick Santorum can take this by either (a) winning 67% of the remaining delegate”

    Try looking at the map. There are not many southern states full of evangelicals left.  Santorum not only has to win 67% of the delegates (I’m trusting your math, though maybe I ought not) but he has to do it in places like New York, and New Jersey, and California, and Utah.

    The fact is that Romney has done a lot better in the Bible Belt than Santorum has done outside it.

    >”or (b) preventing Mitt Romney from winning more than 47% of the remaining delegates”

    Preventing Romney from winning does not allow Santorum to “take this”.

  31. Beeblebrox
    March 14th, 2012 @ 9:14 pm

    About 60% of the GOP electorate prefer the conservatives because they don’t want Romney losing against Obama.  You see, we remember

    For some reason, Romney supporters have bad memories.

  32. Steve
    March 14th, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

     I think the Democrats believe that they have a much better chance of getting Obama re-elected if the general election is focused on Catholics and contraceptives than they do if it’s focused on the unemployment rate and gas prices.

    If that’s their thinking, I’d say they are correct.

  33. Beeblebrox
    March 14th, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

    Trolling here Steve isn’t helping your cause.  Romney is just John McCain with good hair.  The question is a good one: “where will conservatives go if Romney is elected?”  The answer, enough of them will do the same thing they did 4 years ago.  

    That worked out really well for McCain.

  34. Pathfinder's wife
    March 14th, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

    Right you are! I am not a “conservative” (as that term is now defined).  Nor am I a Republican.

    But, this clown does know a few things about the laws of betting, and right now I wouldn’t go to even the $2 window on Romney’s nose…not if he (and his supporters) keep it up with this junk.

  35. Pathfinder's wife
    March 14th, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

    Thank you for making my above case: not even a $2 bet.

    Your canidate is waaay off message Steve, and so are you, and it will cost you.

  36. Wombat_socho
    March 14th, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

     I dunno; all things considered, I think he’s got more spleen built up for Mitt after all the negative ads Romney’s superPAC blasted him with in Florida and elsewhere. At least it sounded that way at the time.

  37. Wombat_socho
    March 14th, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

     It just did. I get tired of people being nasty to each other in the comments.

  38. Pathfinder's wife
    March 15th, 2012 @ 1:14 am

    what was the comment removed? I miss all the fun — and I love how people think getting nasty in a reply to me is going to somehow turn me into a quivering wreck of submission (fyi: I’ve had people aim far worse things than words at me, with the express intent of shuffling me off this mortal coil, daily I have to deal with the fact that the same thing is happening to members of my beloved family and dear friends, now kids of my friends; not much can be said that is going to have as comparative an effect; in fact, it just makes for more potential fun for me).

  39. robertstacymccain
    March 15th, 2012 @ 4:31 am

    You are extrapolating the trend, Steve. While a significant change in the trend may be unlikely, it is not impossible.

    Events happen. Things change. What will be Friday’s front-page headline? We don’t know. And so there are variables that we can’t predict.

  40. ThePaganTemple
    March 15th, 2012 @ 10:52 am

     Pathfinder’s wife-I’m guessing he just wants to discourage comment threads being hijacked and turned into on-line brawling forums. I’m kind of amazed that somebody could get that fired up about Mitt, frankly.

  41. ThePaganTemple
    March 15th, 2012 @ 11:00 am

     We’ll see how well he does in Kentucky. He needs to come here, put on a straw hat, black out on front tooth with marker ink, and ask about buying a thoroughbred to take on a hay ride, constantly smile a great big idiotic corn pone smile and swill a bottle of Maker’s Mark. Then he could talk about how he wished he’d been lucky enough to live the simple, carefree life of a Kentucky coal miner. Then he could buy up all the Kentucky mines. Since Kentucky doesn’t have a professional sports team, maybe he can buy the UK Wildcats. Oh, and he needs to sucker a few tobacco plants. Who knows, Kentucky might be the make or break state, so he better be prepared.

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