TAMPA, March 31, 2012—In their mad dash to create the long awaited general election narrative, media outlets have pronounced Ron Paul’s campaign dead.
They now speculate about what his supporters may do when he drops out. The Associated Press reports that Romney has over ten times the delegates that Ron Paul has secured. Reuters reports that Paul is far behind in Wisconsin and that his supporters have finally conceded that he can’t win the nomination.
None of this is true. Romney has not secured 568 delegates. Hundreds of those delegates won’t be determined until Republican state conventions, many of which haven’t happened yet.
As I’ve reported before, there is very credible evidence that Ron Paul will emerge from those conventions with the majority of delegates in many states. Texas, New York and California haven’t even held their primaries yet. Those three states alone control over four hundred delegates.
In many states, there is no cause-effect relationship between the popular vote and the delegates awarded to each candidate. Delegates are awarded via a completely separate process that doesn’t utilize the popular vote totals in any way. The purpose of the popular vote is to inform the eventual delegates of the preferences of voters in their states. That’s why many of those states allow Democrats and independents to vote. They want the delegates to know who those voters prefer. That tells them who has the best chance to win in the general election.
In most years, the media can get away with reporting on the nomination contest as they are now. They can assume that the candidates will receive roughly the same percentage of delegates from each state as the percentage they received in the popular vote. That isn’t accurate reporting, but it usually comes out in the wash, especially as far as the winner is concerned. However, there are many things different in this year’s race and there is a good chance that much of the media are going to look silly come August.
First, Mitt Romney is probably the weakest Republican “frontrunner” in several decades. Remember, Republicans weren’t exactly energized by John McCain and he soundly defeated Romney four years ago.
Romney’s campaign has been able to get supporters to take fifteen minutes to stop at a polling place and pull a lever, but it’s much more difficult to get them to participate in a delegate process that takes months to complete.
Ron Paul’s supporters are completely the opposite. While he has not pulled off a “beauty contest” win, his supporters are willing to walk through fire to see him become president. They have learned Robert’s Rules of Order, stayed behind after caucus popular votes, and taken over the delegations in many counties in caucus states.
The Iowa Republican Party has confirmed that Paul and Santorum are in a dead heat for the state’s delegates and that Paul may win the majority. That bears no resemblance to the popular vote in Iowa’s caucus, where Santorum narrowly defeated Romney and Paul came in third.
The devotion of Paul’s supporters isn’t only a factor in the caucus states. In those states where the popular vote does bind the delegates to the winner, there is still an important question. Who are those delegates? Do they truly support the winner of the primary vote? Or are they Paul supporters?
There is no reason to believe that Paul is not well represented among delegates in those states as well. Their delegates are obligated to vote for the winner of the primary during the first round of voting at the RNC. However, if no candidate gets 1,144 votes, even they are now unbound and can vote for any candidate on the second ballot.
If it becomes necessary, that vote could be very interesting.
The media started this election cycle by completely ignoring Ron Paul’s campaign. As his poll numbers rose and the crowds at his rallies grew into the thousands, they began giving him grudging respect. Now, they want to pronounce his campaign over and even go so far as to speak for his supporters.
There’s only one problem. Paul and his supporters aren’t going anywhere and this race is far from over. The Paul campaign’s senior advisor Doug Wead documents many examples of Ron Paul’s delegate strategy yielding much better results than the media are reporting. Assuming he’s right, Romney is unlikely to clinch the nomination during the first vote at the national convention. If he doesn’t, Paul’s understated army of delegates could mean big surprises in Tampa.
Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.
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