If nothing else, dear reader, events in Iowa and New Hampshire should at least demonstrate that your time spent reading this blog is not wasted. As we head toward the South Carolina primary race for next week, I can’t help but reflect on what we’ve seen so far in the GOP and continue probing what it may mean for the future. Things are playing out as I previously predicted in this blog, but with each new day and every new event there are shades to be added to the canvas of Republican politics.
Even before the count was completed on Tuesday evening in the Granite State, the major networks were calling Romney “the presumptive nominee.” It’s a bit early for that, at least in any official sense (he only received about 8% more of the New Hampshire vote this time than in 2008). From the most accurate information I’m able to obtain it appears that Mitt Romney only has seven dedicated convention delegates while Ron Paul has three and John Huntsman has two. That’s a far cry from the necessary 1, 144 delegates needed to win Republican nomination.
There are sources making other reports about the delegate numbers, but I believe that’s due to the fact that two realities are easily overlooked. First, Iowa, being a caucus state rather than a primary state, only offers “soft” delegates. In other words, they vote for whomever they wish when they arrive at the GOP convention. Second, New Hampshire held its primary earlier than usual and its delegate count was cut from 23 to 12 as a punishment from the Republican National Committee. So to date, there have only been twelve “pledgeable” delegates at stake in terms of actual party requirements, assigned as I’ve indicated. To see a chart with delegate counts confirming this, and laying out numbers of delegates that can be pledged or not, click here.
Two state contests are done, and pledged delegates separate Romney and Paul by only a total of four. Based upon actual numbers, Romney can’t nearly be considered a “presumptive nominee,” but that’s exactly the rub and that’s why I’m insisting he’ll take the nomination. The so-called “mainstream” media has anointed him, even as it anointed John McCain as the GOP nominee previously. They adore a moderate, and it’s a moderate they’ll insist upon for the Republican party. Then they’ll turn on him and work to destroy him in order to guarantee the reelection of Barack Obama.
And the GOP will probably allow it to happen, as it always does. “Real conservatives don’t win,” or so the mantra seems to go.
What’s different this time is the deep dissatisfaction in the grassroots of Republicanism, and even among some conservative Democrats. I predict that Romney and Paul will continue to square off, causing a tremendous headache for the GOP establishment right up to the day that the convention opens in Tampa.
From my point of view, the best candate speeches given in New Hampshire last Tuesday evening came from Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. Jon Huntsman, though he came in third, gave a speech that reminded me of a used car salesman trying to gain the confidence of a customer. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry are destroying the confidence of their conservative base by attacking Romney’s business success at Bain Capital. With a strong message of social conservatism, Rick Santorum will probably do better in South Carolina than he did in New Hampshire, but I doubt that he has the staying power to remain in the race too much longer.
The Republican party is facing a great opportunity here. It can repeat the mistakes of 2008 or it can forge an alliance in which genuine constitutional conservatives can find a home. No matter what you may think of Ron Paul, the GOP ignores him at its own peril. The results in Iowa and New Hampshire confirm this.