Here’s how the math looks in the wake of the Illinois Primary results.
Most delegate counts are based on information from the Associated Press (AP) that have merged primary election and caucus results, as certified by the state Party Committees, with reporting on Super Delegate endorsements to develop a running count of how many delegates each candidate has. Examples may be found through the links below to The New York Times and the Huffington Post counts.
What Romney and his supporters are doing goes beyond spin to demonstrate a pattern of establishment Republican Party leaders publicly giving Romney delegates he has yet to earn and worse yet, unilaterally ignoring the RNC rules to allocate delegates in a way that is favorable to Mitt Romney, but may not stand-up to a challenge at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.
The two largest and most obvious examples of this problem with Romney’s count are Florida and Arizona.
Most delegate counts give all 50 Florida delegates and all 29 Arizona delegates to Romney. However, as Virginia’s long-serving Republican National Committeeman Morton Blackwell pointed out in a post on Red State, such an allocation ignores the plain language of Rule 15(b)(2) of the Rules of the Republican Party.
See Morton Blackwell’s entire post here http://www.redstate.com/morton_c_blackwell/2012/03/19/delegates/
As Blackwell points out, according to RNC rule 15(b)(2), the Florida and Arizona delegates need to be apportioned, because the vote in each state occurred prior to April 1, 2012. Properly apportioned, Romney would lose 42 delegates (27 FL, 15 AZ) now counted for him (see NY Times count), and Santorum would gain 15 (7FL, 8 AZ), reducing the difference between these candidates by about 20 percent.
In the aftermath of the Florida Primary the Gingrich campaign filed objections to the winner take all allocation of Florida’s delegates, but in a convoluted twist of logic the word came out that since Florida had already been punished for moving-up its Primary it could not be punished again by having to allocate its delegates according to Rule 15(b)(2).
How Florida’s violation of the traditional early states’ carve-out voids Rule 15(b)(2) has never been explained, so expect Florida’s delegates to be challenged if seated as winner-take-all for Romney.
Other outlets, such as Red State and Politico, have also taken a look at this problem: http://www.redstate.com/chrysostom15/2012/03/15/the-real-delegate-count-and-math-and-why-santorum-could-win-if-gingrich-drops-out/
http://images.politico.com/global/2012/03/santorum_path_to_victory_memo.html (page 6)
Another problem for Romney is that many of the delegates he is counting have yet to be officially elected, even though the state Republican Party has held a test of candidate support.
For example, while it is true that Iowa had a caucus on January 3, Iowa is only on step two of a three part process that will, in August, select delegates to the Republican National Convention.
In Iowa, the Presidential candidates need to secure the national convention delegates that they claimed earlier in the process by electing delegates at county and state conventions. Still bruised by the Iowa establishment GOP’s mishandling of the Caucuses that initially – and falsely – gave the win to Romney, it is likely that Santorum will outperform Romney in the election of delegates in these local caucuses, where conservative, grassroots activists dominate over moderates.
The Daily Beast and Red State have also reported on this issue and their articles are at
http://www.redstate.com/chrysostom15/2012/03/15/the-real-delegate-count-and-math-and-why-santorum-could-win-if-gingrich-drops-out/ (See first comment.)
Just as Florida made unilateral rule changes to favor Romney that are at odds with the clear meaning of RNC rules, Michigan changed its rules after the vote in that state to take a delegate away from Santorum and give it to Romney.
While this is only one delegate that Romney would lose and one that Santorum would gain, it is one more example of the overstated difference between the candidates. More importantly, with a potential challenge to seating the delegate at the Republican National Convention looming, the delegate should not be counted in Romney’s column until the potential challenge is resolved.
The Weekly Standard has some reporting that sheds further light on this issue at
Just as it is unclear if many of Romney’s delegates will survive Rule 15(b)(2) and other credentials challenges, it is also unclear whether the Super Delegates assigned to Romney in some counts are accurate.
The delegate count in the New York Times, for instance, shows 33 Super Delegates for Romney, 2 for Santorum and 77 undeclared. The AP notes that it includes Super Delegates in the candidate totals based on phone interviews with the individuals, but there is nothing that prohibits them from changing their vote between now and when the roll is called at the Convention. What’s more Santorum has received public support from more than two Super Delegates, so it seems unlikely that Super Delegates will, in the end, vote at the current stated rate of more than 16 to 1 for Romney, especially in states that Santorum won.
What does this mean going forward to the Republican National Convention in Tampa?
Based on the best case scenario for Romney, many suggest that to win on the first ballot Rick Santorum would need to claim close to 69 percent of the delegates going forward.
However, what is rarely mentioned is that even if we accept his overstated delegate total, that includes delegates yet to be officially allocated, anecdotal allocations of Super Delegates and delegates that may not survive a credentials challenge at the Convention, Mitt Romney would need 46 percent of the remaining delegates going forward.
Clearly, it is not a certainty that Romney will be able to get that percentage in all remaining races. Allocate Romney’s delegates according to the RNC Rules, and he has to keep winning at his present rate or better to have any hope of getting to 1,144 on the first ballot.
That is why it is so important for conservatives that Florida and Arizona be required to allocate according to the plain meaning of Rule 15(b)(2), particularly if Newt Gingrich stays in the race.
Red State has a good analysis of the dynamics of how Newt’s candidacy affects the race
In states where delegates are apportioned, Newt Gingrich’s presence in the race is an added obstacle to Romney consistently gaining almost half of the delegates. Naturally, this works in reverse in winner-take-all states where the presence of another conservative candidate makes it more difficult for Santorum to gain the most votes.
In PART 3: Without 1,144 Votes on the First Ballot Romney is in Trouble, "Ultimately, the national convention itself has plenary power to enforce the rules, and the convention majority decides how to enforce them. If no candidate has a clear majority of the uncontested delegate votes, enforcement of the rules could become the decisive issue of the convention." Read Part 1 here.
Tim Lafever is an attorney and conservative activist from California.