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.
- March 13: GOP PRIMARY RESULTS HQ: SANTORUM WINS ALABAMA AND MISSISSIPPI: ‘WE DID IT AGAIN’
- March 13: Fox Not ‘Fair and Balanced’? Santorum Finally Mentions Pro-Romney Bias UPDATE: Exit Polls Show Mitt Wins Mississippi? Newt 3rd in Alabama?
- March 13: The Expert Agrees: Polls Are Crap! BONUS: @ESantorum2012 in Hawaii
- March 13: Mr. Inevitability, Mitt Romney
- March 13: Sources Close to Christina Hendricks Could Not Be Reached for Comment
- March 12: Why Did the Santorum Campaign Leak Its Strategy Memo to Liberal Media First?
- March 12: Expectations, Inc.
- March 11: Rick Santorum’s Daughter Elizabeth Will Campaign for Her Father in Hawaii
- March 10: SANTORUM SCORES ‘DECISIVE’ WIN IN KANSAS REPUBLICAN CAUCUSES
- March 9: Why the Heck Does Guam Get Nine Delegates to the Republican Convention?
- March 8: If Rick Santorum Wins Kansas …