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    The Democrats now have a non-negligible but a very difficult road to the majority.  The polls for generic Congressional ballot are about tied, and Obama’s improved position is clearly helping. Still deep challenges remain.

    The Democrats need to pick up 25 seats to gain a majority. The issue that they face is that they are on track to lose at least 4 seats [ AR 4, OK 2, NC  11,13, ] that they currently hold. Meaning they need to net about  29 .  The Democrats are also on track to gain five seats, [ IL 8, IL 10,  MD 6,  NH 2, NY 24]  which off sets the loses.

    The Democrats still have another problem in that they have another 16 or so seats that could still be poached by Republicans.  It isn’t that most of these seats will fall but the pressure that these 16 seats put on Democrats is great because it includes some seats the Republicans are favored in.

Poll

Final Number Dems in the House

3%4 votes
11%12 votes
13%14 votes
14%15 votes
4%5 votes
50%51 votes

| 101 votes | Vote | Results

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Introduction:
I believe unfortunately we are near the end of the road when it comes to this Republican Primary process. Hopefully the polls will be wrong and Santorum will be able to hold up decently and win a sizable number of delegates in Illinois but if PPP and ARG are right, that will not happen. If Santorum does collapse in Illinois we will have enough information to know that Romney will ultimately get over 1144 and thus clinch the nomination.

Illinois
Illinois has 12 at large delegate which should be fairly certain for Romney as he will win statewide.  Illinois also has 18 congressional districts awarding 3 delegate a piece.   Given Romney’s strength and some delegate error’s by Santorum. Romney is almost certain to win 10 districts, with another two also likely falling into his lap.
These 12 districts are the
1st,2nd,3rd,4th,5th,6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 13th. [with the 1st and 3rd being in theory in play].
This leaves Santorum with a chance in the
12th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th.
  If in the end Romney and Santorum split these six districts as PPP would seem to suggest[or could be even worse]   This will net Romney a very large delegate win of 48. Even if Santorum were to hold all six he could win, he would still  lose by 30 delegates here.  This math on its own would be very bad.

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I am sure we all know the story of the three little pigs, who built three different houses out of different materials.  I also think we all would have assumed that Mitt Romney would be the third pig who builds his house out of brick but in reality Mitt Romney has built his house out of sticks
With the obvious plus or minus caveats of caucuses and confusion over the allocations, Mitt Romney is running roughly 10-15 delegates ahead of the pace he would need to get to 1144 delegates and has a lead of about 80 on the combination of Santorum and Gingrich.  However he also faces a 900,000 plus vote gap on the combination of the two. That makes for a house of sticks. If Romney can reach the  magic number of 1144 delegates  before the convention, no questions will be asked. But if Romney does not get to 1144, than people will begin to start blowing at sticks, and the house risks total collapse, so just how is that Romney has taken an 80 delegate lead while losing by more than 900,000.  There are three main reasons.

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Alabama and Mississippi Delegate Allocation Prediction:
Mitt Romney is nipping at Newt Gingrich’s and Rick Santorum’s heels in Mississippi and Alabama and there is some sense that a win by Romney in either would go a great deal toward sealing the deal for him. However when looking at the delegate math out of these two states, we are looking at states which are likely to be very close contests for delegates.  Here is how I see it breaking down

Total
Gingrich 31
Santorum 28
Romney 25

Poll

Who Will Alabama and Mississippi

16%5 votes
32%10 votes
35%11 votes
16%5 votes

| 31 votes | Vote | Results

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So unlike most in the pundit class, I go into the Weeds and make a call for every delegate, and also in every delegate awarding contest available. At the end of the day, I believe that a combination of Gingrich and Santorum will edge Mitt Romney by 7 delegates. I could easily Romney winning by an upper limit of about 30.  While the press will be obsessed with the popular vote in Ohio, the winner is likely to only net 1 additional delegate. There are lots of other ways for candidates to win or not win delegates, which might very well be worth more than 1 delegate.  No risk , no reward, so here it is.

Totals
Romney 187
Santorum 122
Gingrich 72
Paul 25

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This coming Tuesday, Ten states will vote and award a large number of delegates. The rules differ greatly as how those delegates are awarded. With a keen eye toward the rules, I look at how many delegates each candidate is quite likely to receive in each state and which delegates are truly in play.  On Sunday after Washington, I will make a best stab at a final estimate for all delegate awarded on Tuesday.  Here is the state of play going in with state breakdowns and the math after the jump.

Overall
Locked
Romney 130
Santorum 92
Gingrich 37
Paul 18
In Play 125

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The Republican primary process has an interesting wrinkle to it. Because most Republican primary states allocate delegates based on congressional districts, a relatively small number of Republican voters in heavily Democratic districts can have an outsized effect on the outcome.

Michigan provides a perfect illustration. The most Democratic congressional district in the state, the 13th, which includes the City of Detroit, had just 26,306 Republican primary voters on Tuesday.  It produced two delegates for Rick Santorum. By contrast, the 11th,, which includes parts of suburban Detroit, had 93,754 Republican primary voters Tuesday. It also produced two delegates – this time for Mitt Romney.

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I for one am very pleased with the results of operation hilarity in Michigan, as the goal should not be to pick a winner but to prevent a winner.  As we move on to Tennessee however quite simply the math changes. When reading this Survey. It is abundantly clear that Rick Santorum will win Tennessee. In the Republican delegate rules in Tennessee a candidate needs 66% to become winner take all [very unlikely] But there is a catch a candidate requires 20% to win delegates therefore if none of his rival hit 20%, it becomes winner take all by default.   Mitt Romney is currently under that 20% statewide, but with undecided it seems somewhat likely that he will get over the hump.  But given regional variance it is possible  that in some Congressional Districts, Romney can be held under 20%.  Better yet because each District only gets three delegates , the second place finisher is the only one entitled to delegates, given the only 6 point gap between Romney and Gingrich , and possibility for regional variance  and no real chance for more delegates for Santorum, The correct Hilarity vote in Tennessee is Gingrich not Santorum.

Discuss

So I am trying to figure out who won the Michigan 13th. All of Wayne county which entirely contains the Michigan 13th voted for Mitt Romney by 9,993 votes.  I have not been able to find precinct data for everywhere, but using Patch, I found precinct data for a decent amount of all now 13th Wayne County, and in those slices I found Romeny winning by 7047, given what is left, it is entirely possible[at least 50-50] that Rick Santorum successfully won the Michigan 13th, and  if he did so it because of operation hilarity. There are additional plenty of similar open primary,  massively Democratic districts to play in to keep Mitt Romney from  1144. If anyone has anymore info please share.

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Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 07:26 PM PST

Defending Operation Hilarity

by Jason The Greek

Although I think a lot more thought has to  be put into the hows and whys of Operation Hilarity, even perhaps the name,  I do have to wonder about the squeamishness of some on this site to its enactment.

The best way to think about it is with a hypothetical. If you knew with perfect
certainty that if one Republican candidate was nominated, President Obama would
clearly be victorious and if another was nominated, the odds would be closer to
50-50, would you be willing to vote in open primary to guarantee an Obama victory? If you would be unwilling to vote in the primary because you found it morally objectionable, I find the position somewhat curious but can respect it.

But if you would be willing to cast a ballot under the circumstance that I outlined, then your position is not a matter of morals but a matter of tactics. Yet, we're very close to the situation I posed. Although there is legitimate debate about who is the strongest or weakest candidate, the goal of keeping whoever is running the best from getting 1,144 delegates is worth doing and worth spending money on. I am with Josh Marshall of TPM who recently said that, in the modern era, a party that is forced into a brokered convention is nearly doomed to defeat. (The Obama Super Pac seems to agree based on there Michigan spending. )
When it comes to the coming Michigan primary, a vote for Rick Santorum would seem to make sense, except in the 13th or 14th district. In those districts, Ron Paul might successfully  steal a district from Mitt Romney with the proper effort.
As the calendar moves forward, there will be more opportunities to look at the polls and the rules and make strategic decisions to keep all Republicans, not just Mitt Romney, from 1144.

Discuss

Early Michigan Delegate breakdown
The Republican delegate allocation process, as I believe you are soon going to learn, is incredibly frustrating. This will become even more important as the contests move along but Michigan is a very good place to start. As of this moment Mitt Romney has cut decently into Rick Santorum’s previous lead and it is possible that he might ultimately end winning the popular vote in Michigan, but as we will soon learn, Most of the Republican Delegates are award on a Congressional District level and in Michigan that means a likely stalemate.  Two delegates will be awarded to the state winner and two for the winner of each of Michigan’s 14 districts. Based on that public policy polling it is likely that Santorum will win the 1st, 2nd3, 4th and 6th and
Romney seems to be a sure bet in the 9th, 11th, 12th, 13th,and 14th. While it seems that the 5th, 7th, 8th, and 10th are to close to call  at this stage.  If you had to predict to day, I would Romney wins 3 out of 5 contest including the statewide contest, netting the impressive some of two delegates out of  Michigan.

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This will be quicker than my usual diaries but  with 98% of the vote it is clear without a doubt that Republican turnout will be down almost 300,000 votes or roughly 15%. The fact is the major success of Mitt Romney's ads was not to get people to vote for him but to convince Republicans not to vote for Newt Gingrich. This is a great contrast  because in South Carolina, where Newt was riding high. Republican Turnout was up  by almost 25%, but when Romney won, the turnout cratered. Florida is a state Republicans have to win to win the White House, and operation burn to crisp is not the way to do it. This is a very good night because of the turnout. Now lets just win in Oregon.

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