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February 2016
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Curmudgeon’s Corner: Stupid Dog!

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner…

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • Daylight Savings Time / Election 2012
  • New iPad / Apple Competition / HD Downloads

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Recorded 11 Mar 2012


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2012 Republican Delegate Count: More Super Tuesday Results

Chart from the 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 it appears that the last 34 delegates from Super Tuesday, a handful each from Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee, have been determined.  17 more to Romney, 8 more to Gingrich and 5 more to Santorum.  But wait, that is only 30!  Well, according to Green Papers, 4 of the 63 delegates that were up for grabs in Ohio end up officially “Uncommitted”, which (I think) means we won’t actually know which way they may go until we know which actual human beings end up being those delegates and those people say publicly who they plan on supporting (which they may or may not actually do before the convention).

All in all, today’s results are once again a win for Romney.  He got 56.7% of today’s delegates, which was way more than the 48.5% he needed to continue to move closer to the nomination rather than further way.  His “% of remaining needed to win” drops now to 48.4%.  For the other candidates, the effect on the other side is more dramatic.  Santorum is still in 2nd place, but his “% of remaining needed to win” moves up from 64.5% to 65.5%.  Romney may not yet be rapidly moving toward cinching the nomination, but the non-Romneys are rapidly moving toward being mathematically eliminated.

Looking at the non-Romney’s for a minute, the next few states are expected to favor them.  Perhaps Santorum will win some.  Perhaps Gingrich will win some.  But to actually be on a pace to win, Santorum has to not just win a state, but win by a huge margin, getting more than 65.5% of the delegates.  For Gingrich it is even worse, he would need to win getting 67.8% of the delegates.  (For completeness, Paul would need to get more than 71.7%.)

Even with Romney expected to not be strong in these states, with four candidates in the race, you don’t expect anybody to be able to pull that kind of level except in winner take all (or winner take almost-all) states.  Of the next few coming up…  in Kansas, Guam, Northern Marianas, Virgin Islands, Alabama, Mississippi, Hawaii and American Samoa there are as usual complicated delegate rules (and the territories might only select uncommitted delegates), but none of them are straight up winner takes all.  (Some allow for certain situations that could lead there though.)  Bottom line, 65.5% (or more) is a pretty big ask and seems unlikely.

Which means that even if Santorum or Gingrich win some states (as expected) in terms of delegates they will almost certainly still both be heading closer to mathematical elimination rather than closer to the nomination.  The big thing to look at will once again be looking at how well the non-Romney’s collectively block Romney from getting the 48.4% of the delegates he needs to be closing in on the nomination himself.  With strong performance by the non-Romney’s in the next few contests, they may well be able to achieve this, even if they don’t actually help themselves individually.

2012 Republican Delegate Count: First Round of Super Tuesday Results

Chart from the 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, Super Tuesday happened.  As of this update, Green Papers has “called” 385 of the 419 delegates available from the Super Tuesday contests.  There are 34 delegates that haven’t been determined yet that will result in updates later, but of the ones we do know, the estimates for Super Tuesday contests are:  Romney 208, Santorum 84, Gingrich 72, Paul 21.  Romney also picked up a Superdelegate, bringing the total for the day to Romney 209, Santorum 84, Gingrich 72, Paul 21.

Compared to the Sabato Crystal Ball projections which we used to game out Super Tuesday over the weekend, Romney performed better than expectations, as did Gingrich.  Santorum and Paul underperformed compared to those predictions.  In any case, where does this put us…

Bottom line, Romney is the big winner today, and this may be the start of him actually pulling away and heading toward the nomination, but he is still not out of the woods in terms of the danger of being blocked from 1144.  Lets look at the details.

The situation for Santorum, Gingrich and Paul is essentially what I mapped out in the gaming Super Tuesday post.  To paraphrase what I said there, it is now absolutely undeniably clear (although the trend was obvious even before today) that none of these three guys are on a path to the nomination.  Of the three, Santorum is doing the best, but with today’s numbers, to be on a path to win, he would need to now get  64.5% of the remaining delegates, compared to the 21.1% he has gotten so far.  For this to even come into the realm of possibility, Gingrich and Paul would both have to stop getting delegates, Santorum would have to pick up all of their support, AND something would need to happen to cause support for Romney to plummet.  This is a very unlikely sequence of events.  It isn’t going to happen.

Oh, I guess I should also note that Gingrich pulled back ahead of Paul for 3rd place.

The remaining question is: “Are the non-Romney’s collectively still in a position to potentially block Romney from getting to 1144?”  If after today, Romney was under 50% of the total delegates, and his “% of remaining needed to win” was heading upward or flat, this is a possibility that would be looking like it was still very much in play.  But Romney exceeded the 49.7% of delegates he needed in order to be on track toward 1144, and did it by a decent margin.  Of the delegates in today’s total, he picked up 209 of 386, or 54.1%.  This reduced his “% of remaining needed to win” from 49.7% to 48.5%.  That means to block, the non-Romney’s collectively need to be getting 51.5% of the delegates, compared to the 46.9% they have managed so far.  So they have to do better than they have been so far, and by a non-trivial margin.  And they have do do this even though it is obvious none of them can win outright.  It has to be about stopping Romney.

Now, the rest of March has a bunch of states that are supposed to be relatively good for the non-Romneys.  So the non-Romney’s managing to get 51.5% in the next few state is very much within the realm of possibility.  After that we hit more Romney friendly states in April.  The thing to watch for in the upcoming states is not who wins the popular vote, or even the delegate count.  The question will be: “Is Romney continuing to get enough delegates to avoid being blocked?”  Right now, that magic number is 48.2%.  As long as he is getting 48.2% of the delegates (or more) then he is marching his way toward the nomination.  If he gets less than that, then blocking will remain possible a little bit longer.  If the rest of March really is friendly to the non-Romneys, we may see that Romney’s “% needed to win” starts heading back up a bit before Romney hits friendly states again and starts fully pulling away.  As long as we see that happening, blocking Romney is still a possibility.  And indeed, if Romney is damaged by the contests in March and his April states start looking not so good after all, then blocking starts looking more real again.

But Romney’s “% of remaining needed to win” is the smallest it has been so far, and none of the other candidates have realistic shots at winning, only a shot at blocking that relies on them continuing to win delegates even though it is obvious they can’t win, so Romney is in a pretty good position right now.  Watch that line though.  Until it starts heading downward decisively, Romney hasn’t got it wrapped up just yet.

So what is next?  Well, first, the last 34 delegates from Super Tuesday (they are from Georgia, Ohio and Tennessee).  Then on Sunday we have Kansas (40), Guam (9), Northern Marianas (9), Virgin Islands (9).  Then Tuesday we have Alabama (50), Mississippi (40), Hawaii (20), American Samoa (9).  And then it goes on and on…

Curmudgeon’s Corner: Did You Get Him a Drum Set?

In the latest Curmudgeon’s Corner…

Sam and Ivan talk about:

  • WA Caucuses
  • Super Tuesday Predictions
  • Human Computer Interactions / Data Speeds and Usage

Just click to listen now:

Recorded 4 Mar 2012


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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.