This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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@abulsme Updates from 2012-03-04 (UTC)

  • Reading – Santorum already losing delegates in Ohio (Steve Thomma) http://t.co/Y6I8qB2O #
  • Reading – Fantasy Delegates (Josh Putnam) http://t.co/38vubMxV #
  • RT @ppppolls: Increased parity between Newt and Santorum is big story of GOP race this week. Ultimately Mitt is the beneficiary #
  • RT @dhewlett: “.@BreakingNews: Update: Disneyland in Anaheim, California, reopens after geocaching game triggers lockdown" Oops, Nerd Alert! #
  • RT @FHQ: Statewide wins/losses aside, this is increasingly a fight for Gingrich/Santorum to keep Romney from getting delegates. #
  • RT @DemConWatch: It's really been that way since Iowa. RT @FHQ: This is increasingly a fight for G/S to keep Romney from getting delegates. #
  • Reading – Romney Camp Says Santorum’s Ohio ‘Delegate Debacle’ Shows Major Problems
    (Benjy Sarlin) http://t.co/Swwumb2r #
  • RT @davidfrum: It's prob true that Obama admin used contracept issue to dig a trap for GOP. But there was no obligation to jump in #
  • RT @fivethirtyeight: Anecdotal accounts seem to suggest Paul or Romney will win WA caucuses, Santorum less likely. #
  • Reading – Local GOP apologizes for turning 1,500 away from caucuses in Kennewick (Michelle Dupler) http://t.co/x7WhWYht #
  • Reading – Rush Limbaugh Apologizes to Sandra Fluke Reported (Evan McMorris-Santoro) http://t.co/0xyTQnWS #
  • Reading – "Return of the Jedi" is the Best Star Wars Movie of All Time (Kevin Drum) http://t.co/k5wx3Cdo #
  • RT @LarrySabato: I used to think a combo of primaries & caucuses was best. Now, primaries much preferred. Too many caucus problems all over. #
  • RT @pattonoswalt: Ayn Rand would be very pleased with how the free market bitch-slapped Limbaugh today. #
  • RT @LarrySabato: What does Romney get out of likely WA win? Positive Sunday headline, Mittmentum 4 SuperTuesday, denial of 'mo' to Sant. #
  • RT @daveweigel: DEVELOPING: Exit polls suggest that the trees in Washington state are the right height #
  • MT @LarrySabato: Delegate fetishists pointing out none allocated in WA today. But candidates get as much juice from headlines as delegates. #
  • RT @chucktodd: There are 424 delegates up for grabs Super Tuesday, but Santorum can only compete for 369. http://t.co/3sBeDwuL #
  • RT @LarrySabato: Congrats to WA GOP. Unlike some other state R parties, it is compiling & releasing data efficiently. #
  • RT @MittRomney: I’m heartened to have won the Washington caucuses, and I thank the voters for their support today. #Mitt2012 #
  • MT @fivethirtyeight: Santorum needs some wins in caucuses, or to win OH by a blowout, to make the race interesting post Super Tuesday. #
  • RT @ggreenwald: CATO was one of the earliest, most vocal opponents of Bush/Cheney exec power abuses & Iraq War #JustAFact #
  • RT @meetthepress: BREAKING: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor endorses Gov. Mitt Romney on Meet the Press #MTP #
  • RT @daveweigel: Will be fun to watch the further GOP establishment scrambling the week after Super Tuesday, as Mitt loses AL/MS primaries #
  • MT @CarrieNBCNews: In Marist poll, Obama up 50-38 on Romney in OH. & a Portman VP pick not wrth a signif Mitt boost http://t.co/jHRKqB4V #
  • Reading – Race to 1144: Washington Caucuses (Josh Putnam) http://t.co/F6Q6jolN #
  • Reading – Tearful Vladimir Putin wins presidency (Tom Parfitt) http://t.co/FaVOWE0p #
  • Reading – Actual Press Bias Or Something, Anyway (Jonathan Bernstein) http://t.co/HxPUOs8F #
  • RT @levarburton: Last day of shooting before launch! #readingrainbow #relaunch #excitedashell #
  • RT @thinkprogress: BREAKING: @ProFlowers pulling ads from Rush Limbaugh show despite apology. 7th company to drop Rush. http://t.co/M6XdpoF6 #
  • Reading – Santorum: I'll beat Romney if Gingrich drops out (Joel Gehrke) http://t.co/lpRWB3jN #
  • Reading – Zap your brain into the zone: Fast track to pure focus (Sally Adee) http://t.co/IH1jrQpM #
  • Reading – WA Caucus Yet Another Sign that Mitt Romney Is the Republican John Kerry (Goldy, Slog) http://t.co/Qseqvgn8 #
  • Watching – Invisible Mercedes (mashable) http://t.co/kDMQNyD9 #
  • Reading – How Obama Got His Groove Back (Zeke Miller) http://t.co/ESU01gJN #
  • Reading – Top Republicans Settle For Romney (McKay Coppins) http://t.co/XVXGny50 #
  • Reading – DMCA: Horrors of a Broad and Automated Censorship Tool (Ernesto, TorrentFreak) http://t.co/EF4vCunT #
  • Reading – Animal Crackers (Lambert Strether) http://t.co/NR0HUgFl #
  • Reading – Khamenei Takes Control, Forbids Nuclear Bomb (Juan Cole) http://t.co/h9v8pm1N #

Gaming Out Super Tuesday

There are a lot of states voting on Super Tuesday (10).  Polling is sparse.  The delegate rules vary greatly between states and are complicated.  I don’t really have the resources or time to do a deep dive here.  Luckily, other people do.  On March 1st Sabato’s Crystal ball did a detailed delegate prediction while looking at all of those things.  (They also included Washington, and it seems they probably overestimated Santorum there, but that’s how predictions go.)  They don’t provide a range of predictions, just one.  Their best guess, on Super Tuesday:  Romney 197, Santorum 144, Gingrich 46, Paul 26.

This would bring their totals for the race to:  Romney 393, Santorum 221, Gingrich 98, Paul 78.  (This from adding Sabato’s numbers to my current estimates which combine the Soft Green Papers count and the DCW super delegate count.) Lets see where we would end up on my “% of remaining delegates needed to win” chart if the above is indeed what happens…

Now, technically speaking this is another of my “everybody loses!” results, as even Romney ends up increasing his “% or remaining delegates needed to win” number in this scenario (from 49.7% to 50.2%).  But there are definitely degrees of losing, and Romney has by far the best deal here.  Lets start at the bottom.

After this result Ron Paul would need 71.3% of the remaining delegates to catch up and win, compared to the 9.9% he would have gotten up to that point.  This clearly is beyond what is reasonably possible.  Paul was never about winning though, he is about getting his message out.  So he’ll of course continue on.

After this result Newt Gingrich would need 69.9% of the remaining delegates to catch up and win, compared to the 12.4% he would have gotten up to that point.  This is also clearly beyond the range of the reasonably possible.  So the question becomes if Gingrich can continue to get funding anyway to stay in and continue acting as a spoiler, with the hope that along with the other non-Romneys he can block Romney from getting to 1144.

After this result Rick Santorum would need 61.7% of the remaining delegates to catch up and win, compared to the 28.0% he would have gotten up to that point.  I am tempted to say this is ALSO clearly beyond the range of the reasonably possible, and I think it actually is.  But for the sake of argument, you can imagine a situation where Gingrich and Paul both drop out (unlikely), Santorum picks up ALL of their support (unlikely)  AND Romney has a series of major mistakes and his levels of support drop dramatically and significantly and those people decide they like Santorum after all (unlikely) then maybe Santorum can get to 61.7%.  (If even more dramatically, on dropping out Gingrich instructed his delegates to vote for Santorum, and a bunch of them indicated they probably would, that would lower the 61.7% number, but still probably not enough.)

After this result Mitt Romney would need 50.2% of the remaining delegates to get to 1144 and seal the deal, compared to the 49.7% he had gotten so far.  Unlike the other three candidates, these numbers are actually very close to each other.  If he continues just that level, he gets blocked, but Romney only has to do SLIGHTLY better than he had been doing up to that point in order to actually win.  At this point, Romney would NOT yet have started breaking out to drive his “% of remaining needed to win” number down toward zero.  At the same time, he has not had a disaster where this number starts moving dramatically upward.  But would these results put Romney in a position where finally pushing “% of remaining needed to win” down in the next few contests gets a lot easier?

If the actual result is anything like what Sabato and company predict for Super Tuesday, then it will be absolutely clear that Paul, Gingrich and Santorum are not on a path to win the nomination.  (And frankly, even before Super Tuesday, this direction was clear, this would just hammer that home.) But the three of them will still collectively be in a position where if their ability to get delegates remains flat (or increases) they will block Romney.  Their ability to keep this as something that remains possible (at least for awhile longer) will in large part depend on how Super Tuesday gets “spun”.  If we start hearing from the talking heads about how Romney’s lead is now insurmountable and this is all over, then support for the other three will start to decline rapidly, and in the next contests Romney should be able to finally actually start closing in on a win and it really will be done.

If on the other hand, the spin is all about Romney still not closing the deal and that Santorum has momentum out of winning the popular vote in Ohio or some such regardless of the delegate situation, then this drags out a bit longer.  But that depends on people continuing to vote for the non-Romneys, even after it is clear they have no shot at winning.  It truly does become a “non-Romney” vote specifically aimed at blocking Romney rather than a vote actually for any of these three guys directly.  But will the Santorum, Gingrich and Paul people actually do that?  Or will they just say “I guess it is Romney” and either vote for Romney or just stay home, finally letting Romney start getting the margins of delegates he needs to wrap this thing up?

Given the overall situation, if pressed to make the prediction, I say the spin leans toward “Maybe Romney won the night on delegates… but look at all the shiny states won by the others… and Virginia doesn’t count because Santorum and Gingrich weren’t even on the ballot…  Romney is having trouble closing the deal… we need to start looking at Kansas and Alabama and Hawaii and Mississippi and the rest of the states and territories in March (at least).  And if this this and this happen, then…  BROKERED CONVENTION!  Wouldn’t that be AWESOME???”

I predict this not because I think the numbers actually back up this case, but because it is in the interests of the press to drag this out as long as possible, so they will hype any ray of hope the non-Romneys have for as long as they can possibly get away with it, which will in turn lead people to continue to think it is a contest and vote for the non-Romneys as the process continues to drag on, which will continue to feed the Romney hasn’t locked it up narrative for awhile longer.  They did this in 2008 with the Democrats, they will do it in 2012 with the Republicans.

Then eventually it will get to the point where Romney’s lead is so overwhelming it will be hard to sustain that narrative, the support for the non-Romneys will finally start to dissipate, and Romney will slowly but surely make his way to 1144.

Having said that, despite my prediction to the contrary, I still hope the non-Romneys can sustain enough between them to block Romney.  That would be much more fun to watch.

2012 Republican Delegate Count: Washington Caucuses

Chart from the Abulsme.com 2012 Republican Delegate Count Graphs page.  When a candidate gets down to 0%, they have cinched the nomination.  If they get up past 100%, they have been mathematically eliminated.  Rather than the date on the x-axis, we show the “% of Delegates Already Allocated” as this better represents the progress through the race.  Note that these numbers include estimates of the eventual results of multi-stage caucus processes which will be refined as the later stages occur.

So, today’s update includes the preliminary estimates from the Washington caucuses.  As always, is important to note that no actual delegates were allocated at this point.  That will happen at later stages of the process.  Our graphs reflect Green Paper‘s “soft count” estimate, which will change over time as the later stages of the process happen.  By those estimates, the results were Romney 16, Paul 10, Santorum 10, Gingrich 4.  Santorum also picked up a super delegate since yesterday’s update.  So for the day:  Romney 16, Santorum 11, Paul 10, Gingrich 4.

Bottom line though, we have yet another day where EVERYBODY LOSES.  Of course the narrative is all about how Romney has now “won” several in a row, and this gives him momentum going into Super Tuesday.  And of course that is a very real effect.  “Winning” and the media spin around it have a huge effect.  People don’t just vote for their favorite candidate, they tend to want to vote for someone that can win.  So things may change in future contests.

But as of right now, Romney did the best of the night, but he needed to get 49.4% of the delegates to be “on pace” to get to 1144.  He actually got 16/41, or only 39.0%.  So the percentage of remaining delegates he needs to get to win actually increases from 49.4% up to 49.7%.  This isn’t a big move, but it is a move in the wrong direction.  To be wrapping this up, Romney needs to be winning by numbers that drive this metric down.  So far, he continues to hover in the range where if he continues as he has been, he will eventually win, but if he starts to do even slightly worse, he can be blocked.

For the non-Romneys, their path to the nomination continues to get more and more unlikely.  Santorum is still in second place.  He now needs 55.9% of the remaining delegates to catch up and win.  This would be a remarkable change from the 20.4% of delegates he has managed so far.  The more realistic goal for the non-Romneys at this point continues to be that they collectively get enough delegates to block Romney, not that any of them actually collect enough to win themselves.  (Having said that, one of these guys catching up is not yet actually impossible if something major happens, it is just getting increasingly likely.)

I’ll also note that according to our estimates (combining the Soft Green Papers count and the DCW super delegate count) Ron Paul has now caught up and tied with Newt Gingrich for 3rd in the delegate count.

And now we have Super Tuesday.  Although not as big as 2008, we’ll still have a large number of delegates awarded.  The main thing to look out for:  Does Romney’s “% of remaining needed to win” actually start to drop?  If not, the possibility of him not getting to 1144 gets a lot more serious.