I don’t often brag, but…I told you so.
California, here they really come.
Unless you’ve been on vacation on Mars this past week, you know that the political chattering class has finally figured out that “winning” isn’t everything—or at least it isn’t what it used to be.
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The Republican Party’s new delegate selection rules and the rise of powerful patrons and Super Pacs buoying up flailing campaigns have shifted the race’s dynamics away from a swift packaging of winner-take-all states by the candidate with the best organization and most bucks.
In 2008, Super Tuesday wrapped up the GOP nomination for Sen. John McCain.
So far this year, 21 (or 22, if you add still-counting Wyoming) states have voted, and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, has claimed victory in 11 primaries or caucuses, (or 12, if you count Wyoming).
To date, according to the Associated Press, Romney has collected 421 delegates, or roughly a third of the 1144 necessary to win nomination.
The delegate fight will grind on well past Super Tuesday.
The only pure winner-take-all states left are Delaware (17 delegates), Utah (40), New Jersey (50) and the District of Columbia (19--and former Sen. Rick Santorum isn’t on the ballot there). If Romney wins them all, not impossibility, he’d garner just 126 more delegates by the end of June.
Conventional wisdom insists that the delegate terrain could be highly unfriendly to Romney in the next couple of weeks, as the primary race slogs through the Deep South.
There his more conservative opponents, Santorum and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, are hustling hard, with the wind of SuperPac money and “independent” ads at their back.
That brings us to California, which offers the biggest trove of delegates up for grabs—a total of 172. Our June 5th Presidential primary is “winner-take-all” by Congressional District. Even if a candidate wins a C.D. by just one vote, that candidate will gain all three delegates from that district.
A total of 159 delegates are distributed that way and an additional 10 are awarded to the statewide winner.
Realistically, to clinch his party’s nomination, let alone arrive in Tampa with an actual majority of delegates, Romney needs virtually to sweep California’s Congressional Districts.
Of course, the news media, campaign momentum and other dynamics we can’t even predict now will help drive the vote. But media and money will be key, as they always are, in the Golden State primary.
A recent Public Policy Institute of California poll shows that Romney still leads the candidate pack, but his 6-point margin over second-place Santorum is far less than his 19 point lead in PPIC’s January survey.
However, at this point, Romney is the only GOP candidate to have the financial and organization resources necessary to contest every one of California’s 53 Congressional districts.
It’s likely that Romney, supported by the state’s Gov. Chris Christie, will corral New Jersey’s 50 delegates, also at stake on June 5th. The Garden State and the Golden State offer Romney the potential of 222 delegates, as the primary season winds down.
California can’t be counted out this Presidential season.
We’ve waited a long time to be perceived as relevant. And I’m even more pumped that the fate of the GOP Presidential nomination could rest with New Jersey, the state of my birth, and California, my home sweet home.