It is very interesting reading especially in light of the difficulty we and the rest of the media have had in projecting the delegate count on the basis of the actual vote. (See DemConWatch for the best delegate analysis I have found.)
To: Mike Biundo
From: John Patrick Yob
Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2012
Subject: Santorum Path to Delegate Victory
Rick Santorum is very well positioned to earn the delegates necessary to win the national convention despite what the Romney campaign and their official/unofficial surrogates’ fuzzy math may claim.
As a result of their inability to inspire the GOP based on message, the Romney campaign made the curious decision to lead their post-Super Tuesday campaign with the argument that the race is over, rather than touting his positive qualities as a candidate.
The effort to talk about the math was a defensive smokescreen intended to distract from the major problems the Romney campaign faces in county, district, and state conventions across the country when national convention delegates are actually elected.
The reality is simple: the Romney math doesn’t add up and he will have a very difficult time ever getting to a majority of the delegates.
The situation is only going to get worse for them and better for Rick Santorum as time passes. Simply put, time is on our side.
Strength of Candidacy
Romney has been forced to outspend the field dramatically in order to barely win in states he should have won handily (Michigan and Ohio), and losing other states by wide margins (Tennessee and Oklahoma).
Rick Santorum continues to win contests and gain national convention delegates because he has emerged as the favorite of the conservative grassroots base of the Republican Party. As a result he has wins in most caucuses. He also has won the majority of counties even in Romney states excluding moderate urban areas.
Support from Conservative Base
Romney has proven incapable of inspiring grassroots conservative support in caucuses as he has lost every caucus contest despite outspending the other candidates by many multiples.
Similarly, there are serious cracks in the Romney finance operation as the campaign finance reports show that he is incapable of inspiring grassroots donors across the country to donate to his campaign. Instead his campaigns are funded by contributors who have already maxed out and are incapable of donating again in the primary. This explains why the SuperPAC is forced to pay for such a large proportion of their paid media.
The lack of grassroots support that plagued his caucus states operation, and plagued his small donor operation, will now plague his national delegate election operation.
Rick Santorum has excelled in caucuses and small dollar contributions and therefore will also excel at state conventions where activists are more conservative than the average primary voter.
Longer Proportional Process Favors More Conservative Candidates
I served in a similar role for John McCain 2008. At this point of the process there was a very real concern about the possibility of a more conservative candidate staying in the race and fighting us at state conventions across the country where more conservative activists determine the election of National Convention Delegates. Although John McCain was winning primaries in a fractured conservative field, he was not the favorite of grassroots conservative activists in the party. Similarly, in this race, a drawn out process favors conservative candidates such as Rick Santorum. This is a major problem for Mitt Romney, the moderate in this race.
Even more importantly, the proportional process that Romney supporters pushed through the Republican National Committee has turned out to be a major problem for the campaign. Suddenly the election of the actual delegates at county, state, and district caucuses is now more important than the primaries-regardless of what the media covers as determinative. It is difficult for any candidate to clinch the nomination in a proportional calendar without over-performing in the state conventions that elect the delegates. As a result, the state conventions will ultimately determine the outcome of this race.
Romney Frontloaded Friendly States
Romney supporters on the Republican National Committee manipulated the calendar to front-load several of the states that were favorable towards him. That was beneficial to his early lead in the delegate count, however it is problematic for him as the race continues and moves towards less friendly states. This is one of the reasons that they emphasized fuzzy math after Super Tuesday.
Race Moves towards Santorum’s Strength
The race for the nomination will soon start to move towards primaries and caucuses that are more favorable terrain for Rick Santorum. More importantly, the race will eventually move from primaries and caucuses that are often beauty contests to real county and state convention contests where actual delegates to the national convention are elected.
Anyone who knows anything about state conventions knows that the most conservative candidate has a big advantage over a moderate candidate. In many cases, this advantage is overwhelming.
Romney’s Delegate Problem
Romney has a delegate problem in that he will have a very hard time getting his moderate supporters elected as delegates in these convention systems. This was
evident in Iowa this weekend where the Romney operation collapsed, and Santorum and Paul gained.
The Real Calendar
The Real Calendar (TRC) officially kicked off this weekend in Iowa where activists gathered to begin the process of electing national convention delegates. It is clear to anyone who understands this process that a moderate candidate like Mitt Romney is going to have a difficult time winning as many delegates to the national convention in an Iowa County and State Convention system as the media calculated based on the Open Caucus system that took place in January. This system will play out in state after state, and although there will be hiccups in certain states, on average Rick Santorum will gain far more delegates than Mitt Romney through this delegate election process.
The Real Count
The count largely depends on how you calculate the delegates in states such as Iowa that have not yet elected their National Convention Delegates. For example, the RNC currently gives Santorum 0 delegates for Iowa, the media gives him 7. We believe he will end up with more than 7 delegates as the process plays out. We also believe that Romney will receive less.
Most of the publicly available delegate counts are fundamentally flawed because none of them have taken into account that conservative grassroots activists at county and state conventions will elect more Santorum delegates than a primary or even caucus beauty contest in the same respective state would allocate. Therefore, the Real Counts are far better than the projected counts and will continue to improve as the National Convention approaches and states elect their actual convention delegates. The Santorum campaign will keep a tally called the Real Count moving forward. It will be based on the results of both the Real Calendar and the Traditional Calendar.
There is unlikely to be very much change in the delegate totals based on the results of Tuesday’s contests. Regardless of the results, we anticipate this finally becoming an election between the moderate establishment candidate and the conservative grassroots candidate as we move towards Missouri and beyond.
- March 17 — Missouri: Rick Santorum will do very well in Missouri, win a number of delegates, and have momentum heading into Illinois.
- March 20 — Illinois: Mitt Romney might have an edge in Illinois but we feel very good about our ability to once again win the more conservative areas of the state, earn a considerable number of delegates, and maintain momentum heading into Louisiana.
- March 24 — Louisiana Primary:
Louisiana is going to allocate approximately half of its delegates in the Primary on
March 24 and half of them later in a caucus process. It is likely that Santorum picks up
considerable delegates in both of these contests.
We assume that Newt Gingrich will become less of a factor in terms of vote totals in races after the Louisiana Primary, if not before.
- April 3 — Wisconsin, Maryland, and DC: These primaries are winner take all. They could be the first contests that are a one-on-one between a conservative and a moderate. The emphasis that day is likely to be on Wisconsin. Most recent polling has shown Santorum to be doing quite well in the state and it is expected to be a very close contest. Not being on the ballot was not a problem or us in DC because DC Republicans would almost surely vote for the most moderate candidate anyway.
- April 24 — New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware: Rick Santorum will win a very large number of delegates on April 24 including his home state of Pennsylvania. Some analysts in the media have argued that Romney will do well in the Northeast because he is the moderate in the race — however that is not necessarily consistent with recent history in contested primaries in these five states. April 24 could be a good day for Rick Santorum.
- May 8 — North Carolina, Indiana, and West Virginia: We believe that May 8 is the beginning of the end for Mitt Romney and the date that puts Rick Santorum on a path to the nomination. Rick Santorum will have the momentum coming out of these contests. Our research shows us that even the uncommitted delegates in West Virginia favor Santorum.
- May 15 — Nebraska and Oregon: Rick Santorum will do well on May 15 in Nebraska and hold his own in Oregon.
- May 22 — Kentucky and Arkansas: Rick Santorum will likely win a majority of the delegates on May 22 and gain significant momentum leading into Texas.
- May 29 — Texas: Rick Santorum will win the Texas Primary and dramatically close the public delegate gap with Mitt Romney on May 29th.
- June 5 — California, New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana, and New Mexico:
The candidate who wins the most delegates on June 5 will lead the public delegate count going into the national convention. Rick Santorum will also lead the Real Count by this point.
- June 26 — Utah: We will go out on a limb and predict that Romney will win Utah.
Conservative Majority of Delegates: Public vs. Actual Delegate Counts
There is a “Conservative Majority” of delegates emerging as county and state conventions elect their actual National Convention delegates. This “Conservative Majority” will support Rick Santorum over a moderate-establishment Romney.
There are three reasons why the counts that are put out by the RNC and media organizations are not reflective of the real numbers:
- Unbound and Uncommitted Delegates elected by grassroots activists are more likely to favor Santorum than those elected by direct primary election. This represents a movement of delegates into Santorum’s tally.
- Bound delegates elected by grassroots activists will favor Santorum as rules allow.
Gingrich delegates are more likely to favor Santorum.
- Rule Breaking states such as Florida and Arizona.
As has been described previously, unbound delegates are much more likely to favor Rick Santorum than Mitt Romney because they are largely elected by more conservative caucus and convention systems. Therefore, this race is much, much closer than what the current media and RNC counts portray.
Bound delegates are largely elected at state conventions across the country and therefore are more conservative than an average primary voter. If the convention goes multiple ballots, it is likely that a conservative candidate like Rick Santorum will gain votes on the second and third ballots whereas a moderate candidate like Mitt Romney will lose votes.
We obviously do not know how Newt Gingrich will move forward with his campaign but we are confident that whether before the convention or on the convention floor that when the time comes Newt Gingrich delegates are far more likely to vote for Rick Santorum than they are for Mitt Romney.
Majority Needed for Romney, Not for Santorum
Mitt Romney must have a majority on the first ballot in order to win the nomination because he will perform worse on subsequent ballots as grassroots conservative delegates decide to back the more conservative candidate. Subsequently, Santorum only needs to be relatively close on the initial ballot in order to win on a later ballot as Romney’s support erodes.
Romney Difficulty in getting 50% of Remaining Delegates
Even Romney’s own counters admit that he needs to earn almost 50% of the remaining delegates in order to win the nomination. We believe this number is higher than 50% for the reasons described in this memo. Regardless, this is going to be very difficult in a three or four person race, especially as he loses delegates at state conventions such as Iowa.
Florida and Arizona
Florida and Arizona broke RNC rules both when they moved forward and also when they chose to allocate delegates. Their delegations will be challenged if seated as winner-take-all.
Time is on Rick Santorum’s side. He will gain delegates as this process plays out and conservatives are elected as National Convention Delegates. Despite the Romney campaign’s smokescreen, they cannot change the fact that he can’t inspire the base of the party, has a delegate problem, and has a very difficult time getting to a majority.
The delegate race is currently much closer than some would like people to believe. It will get even closer as actual national convention delegates are elected at county, district, and state conventions across the country. They represent the Conservative Majority of the Republican Party, and that is a huge problem for a moderate candidate like Mitt Romney.
Furthermore, Rick Santorum will gain the momentum in late May by winning Kentucky, Arkansas, and Texas and head into California and New Jersey with significant momentum.
At that point there will be a Conservative Majority of the delegates to the National Convention and Rick Santorum will become the presumed Republican nominee for President of the United States.
Please also read: