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Romney Was Ahead, But After Super Tuesday He’s Ahead

March 7, 2012

Every four years, the media punditocracy hyperventilates for weeks in advance of Super Tuesday about the Big Showdown that’s going to decide everything.  Then Super Tuesday happens, and every four years the punditocracy discovers that the candidates are going to have to slug it out until at least May.

Before Super Tuesday, the professional commentariat all want to talk about the horse race – who’s ahead in the polls, who has momentum, who’s doing better than expected.  After Super Tuesday, the commentariat discovers that a primary campaign is all about delegates, and it’s going to take a while until somebody has enough delegates to clinch the nomination.  You need half the delegates to win the nomination, and you can’t have half the delegates until half the delegates have been awarded.  All the states that have voted so far account for about 36 percent of the Republican delegates.  So the talking heads should all stop acting like it’s significant somehow that Mitt Romney hasn’t clinched the nomination yet.

The paid pontificators will never let on, but the whole thing is very simple.  Before Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney had more than half of the committed delegates in his column.  After Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney has more than half of the committed delegates in his column.  Barring something pretty extraordinary, Mitt Romney will have more than half of the delegates in his column when the convention starts voting.  Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee, and all the rest is high-priced blather.

Ron Paul isn’t running for president, he’s promoting the Austrian School of economic theory.  Rick Santorum is running for president, just not in 2012 – he’s running for president in 2016.  I have no idea what Newt Gingrich is running for.

Since none of them are running for the 2012 nomination, the fact that they have no chance to win the 2012 nomination is no reason to withdraw from the race for the 2012 nomination.  So Gingrich, Paul and Santorum will stay in the race, probably right up to the convention.  They’ll win some delegates along the way, but Romney will win the nomination on the first ballot, just like every party’s nominee has done since before the modern primary system was devised.

While the primaries drag on, the punditocracy will talk endlessly about how the Republican contest is helping President Obama.  As a liberal, I’d love to believe it, but it just isn’t so.  Ask John McCain how much it helped him that Hillary Clinton battled Barack Obama until August.  Does anyone seriously believe that Ron Paul’s libertarians, or Rick Santorum’s evanglicals, or Newt Gingrich’s white southerners will prefer Obama to Romney?  Republican divisions at this stage will prove to be trivial on Election Day.

Now if the Republican Right carries on at the 2012 convention like Pat Buchanan at the 1992 convention, then we may have a different story.

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