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Monday, February 27, 2012 2:33 AM

Mathematical Case for Brokered Convention; How Ron Paul Can Throw a Big Wrench Into Romney's Campaign

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There are 2,286 republican delegates. It takes 1,144 delegates to win the Republication nomination. With four candidates remaining, many are wondering about the likelihood of a brokered convention where no candidate wins in the first round.

Conventional wisdom suggests there will not be a brokered convention. From where I sit, one is increasingly likely.

Following is a table of delegates won so far (totals from Real Clear Politics Delegate Count), plus my projections of all primaries and caucuses through Super-Tuesday on March 6 (based on recent polls).

Total to Date-24399473220
IowaJan 3286700
New HampshireJan 1012*7003
South CarolinaJan 212520230
FloridaJan 3150*50000
NevadaFeb 42814365
MinnesotaFeb 74021714
ColoradoFeb 73691721
MaineFeb 11249307
MichiganFeb 2830*131124
ArizonaFeb 282929000
WashingtonMar 343131758
GeorgiaMar 6761922278
OhioMar 6661927137
TennesseeMar 6581625710
VirginiaMar 64949000
OklahomaMar 643111895
MassachusettsMar 64128823
IdahoMar 63232000
North DakotaMar 628101233
AlaskaMar 627101133
VermontMar 61711411
Super Tuesday EstMar 678235920210472
If Paul Wins IdahoMar 6782327202104104

* States penalized half of their delegates.

Thru Super-Tuesday Scenarios
Romney 359 Others 423 (Romney wins Idaho)
Romney 327 Others 455 (Romney loses Idaho)


  1. I assigned delegates by expected percentages based on recent polls except in winner-take-all setups. All state delegates were assigned to the above four candidates.
  2. In no instance did I assume Romney would do worse than his most recent polls. In several instances I bumped up Romney's poll percentages substantially.
  3. Points one and two were not done to favor Romney per se, but rather to to give a modest boost to the prevailing idea there would not be a brokered convention.

Michigan Prediction

30 Delegates
Percent: Romney-40% Santorum-35% Gingrich-8% Paul-12%
Delegates: Romney-13 Santorum-11 Gingrich-2 Paul-4
Real Clear Politics Michigan Primary Poll

Arizona Prediction
29 Delegates
Arizona is "Winner Take All"
Romney wins all 29 Delegates
Real Clear Politics Arizona Primary Poll

Washington Prediction
43 Delegates
Percent: Romney-30% Santorum-38% Gingrich-12% Paul-17%
Delegates: Romney-13 Santorum-17 Gingrich-5 Paul-8
Real Clear Politics Washington Caucus Poll

Georgia Prediction
76 Delegates
Percent: Romney-24% Santorum-26% Gingrich-33% Paul-10%
Delegates: Romney-19 Santorum-22 Gingrich-27 Paul-8
Real Clear Politics Super Tuesday Poll (Georgia, Ohio,  Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Vermont)

Ohio Prediction
66 Delegates
Percent: Romney-26% Santorum-38% Gingrich-19% Paul-10%
Delegates: Romney-19 Santorum-27 Gingrich-13 Paul-7

Tennessee Prediction
58 Delegates
Percent: Romney-26% Santorum-40% Gingrich-12% Paul-16%
Delegates: Romney-16 Santorum-25 Gingrich-7 Paul-10
Vanderbilt University Tennessee Primary Survey

Virginia Prediction
49 Delegates
Romney wins all 49 Virginia delegates.
Virginia has a proportional allocation with a twist. Should any candidate take 50% in a district, the candidate will all votes in the district. In a display of complete ineptitude, Santorum and Gingrich failed to collect and turn in enough signatures on time and are not on the ballot. Romney is currently polling about 53% and Paul 23%, but Paul can only win delegates if he outright wins a district.

Oklahoma Prediction
43 Delegates
Percent: Romney-23% Santorum-42% Gingrich-20% Paul-9%
Delegates: Romney-11 Santorum-18 Gingrich-9 Paul-5

Massachusetts Prediction
41 Delegates
Percent: Romney-64% Santorum-16% Gingrich-6% Paul-8%
Delegates: Romney-28 Santorum-8 Gingrich-2 Paul-3

Idaho Prediction
32 Delegates
Romney wins all 32 Idaho delegates
January Straw Poll Results Romney-34% Santorum-10% Gingrich-12% Paul-43%
February Straw Poll Results Romney-45.4% Paul 42.7%

A third straw poll will be held March 1-3 and my answer may change based on the results of that poll.

Ron Paul or Mitt Romney will likely take all of the delegates based on the explanation below. Whether or not Paul or Romney takes all the votes depends entirely on whether or not Gingrich or Santorum can win any counties which at this time looks doubtful.
Idaho Caucus Explanation:
Voters will go to locations for their county and use ballots or tokens to support a candidate on Tuesday, March 6th. There are five candidates for Idaho voters to choose from and they will keep voting until a winner is selected.

In each round the candidate with the fewest votes or anyone with less than 15% is out of the race. The voting ends at the county level when there is a final vote for two candidates or one has more than 50% of the vote for that county.

The delegates assigned for that county will then represent the winning candidate. Counties will report their winner to the state office in Boise. If one candidate has more than 50% of the vote for all of Idaho, they get all 32 delegates. Otherwise, the candidates split delegates they won in each county
I cannot find any recent polls for North Dakota, Alaska, or Vermont. Romney should do extremely well in Vermont and fair at best in North Dakota and Alaska.

North Dakota Prediction
28 Delegates
Percent: Romney-35% Santorum-40% Gingrich-10% Paul-10%
Delegates: Romney-10 Santorum-12 Gingrich-3 Paul-3

Alaska Prediction
27 Delegates
Percent: Romney-35% Santorum-40% Gingrich-10% Paul-10%
Delegates: Romney-10 Santorum-11 Gingrich-3 Paul-3

Vermont Prediction
17 Delegates
Percent: Romney-64% Santorum-16% Gingrich-6% Paul-8%
Delegates: Romney-11 Santorum-4 Gingrich-1 Paul-1

How Ron Paul Can Throw a Big Wrench Into Romney's Campaign

I purposely bumped up Romney's percentages to see if a brokered convention would still be possible. I also awarded Romney all 32 delegates in Idaho even though that race is a statistical dead-heat with Ron Paul.

If Ron Paul wins Idaho, and the rest of my numbers above are close, the odds of a brokered convention are well above 50 percent in my estimation. There may be a brokered convention anyway, provided Santorum, Paul, and Gingrich stay in to the end.

Fuzzy Math

The New York Times discusses The G.O.P.’s Fuzzy Delegate Math.
There are 2,286 delegates to the Republican National Convention, of which 1,144 are required to clinch a majority. The Web site TheGreenPapers.com, which has extensive information on delegate-selection procedures in each state, divides them into two broad categories, what it calls “hard” and “soft.” Hard delegates are formally bound to a candidate on at least the first ballot at the convention, while soft delegates are not.

Although this is a useful conceptual framework, it probably simplifies things too much. Instead, Republican delegates exist along something of a spectrum between bound and unbound, pledged and unpledged, hard and soft.

Contributing to the confusion is that there are a series of three interrelated ideas about delegates which are often treated as interchangeable, even though they are not:

  • Bound vs. Unbound Delegates. Is the delegate officially bound to a particular candidate on at least the first ballot at the convention?
  • Pledged vs. Unpledged Delegates. Whether or not she is formally bound to a candidate, will the delegate’s candidate preference be known in advance of the convention and reported upon by the news media?
  •  .
  • Elected vs. Selected Delegates. Was the delegate selected through some relatively direct means, such as based on the popular vote in the state’s primary? Or through some indirect means, like through the series of conventions that often take place in caucus states, and which may not correspond to the popular vote there?

  • Category of Delegates

    Legal Challenges on the Way

    I did not take any of the bound, unbound, super-delegate counts into consideration. However, I was rather generous to Romney in other ways.

    Moreover, there are legal challenges pending in Arizona and Florida. Winner-Take-All primaries are a violation of Republican National  Committee rules if held before April 1. As it stands, Romney 50 Florida delegates and 29 Arizona delegates that could dramatically change the totals.

    Should Romney loses those challenges and also lose Idaho, a brokered convention would be all but certain.

    If Wishes Were Fishes

    If wishes (mine) were fishes, then Ron Paul would win the nomination outright. A more realistic wish is for a brokered convention because Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich are all likely to lose to Obama.

    I believe Paul would defeat Obama although polls don't currently support that idea.

    Republicans Need to Face the Facts

    Of the four candidates, only Ron Paul balances the budget, only Ron Paul wants to stop the war-mongering, only Ron Paul does not alienate the majority of women, only Ron Paul can ignite a fire in independents, and independents (not the radical right), are the key to this election.

    Republicans are not going to vote for Obama so appealing to the far right makes little sense in terms of an overall strategy. Moreover, independents are likely horrified by the war-mongering and misguided statements on religious and social issues of all the candidates but Paul.

    If Republicans lose this election, it will be because they all outdid each other in foolish attempts to appeal to the far right on issues where a huge majority of the population of the US is in the middle.

    Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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