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At his current pace, Mitt Romney won't win
enough delegates from voters to secure
the Republican nomination, but the party's
super delegates can put him over the top.
National Journal has an interesting article on Tuesday on Mitt Romney's safety net: the Republican National Committee's super delegates. The key point: There will be 120 uncommitted, unelected RNC super delegates in Tampa, and even if Mitt Romney fails to reach the magic number of 1,144 from delegates won in primaries and caucuses, these super delegates can put him over the top.

Technically, there are actually 168 super delegates, but 15 of those super delegates can't vote because their states voted early, breaking RNC rules, and 33 of them are bound to support the winner of their state's primary or caucus. That means there's really only 120 super delegates in the traditional sense. Those 120 insiders have the power to put Mitt Romney over the top, if they need to do so, they almost certainly will. Romney, by AP's delegate count, has nearly five times as many super delegate supporters as his opponents combined. With roughly 80 super delegates keeping mum about their preferences (AP says the number is 77, National Journal says it is 81), Romney has a safety valve if he can't win enough delegates at the ballot box.

But we already knew that Mitt Romney was in a dominant position to secure the nomination. The question that hasn't been as clearly explored is whether Romney is likely to be able to secure the nomination without the help of super delegate insiders. Based on the numbers so far, it looks as though there's a pretty good chance he can't do it.

Overall, there will be 2,286 voting delegates at the RNC in Tampa, 120 of whom will be uncommitted super delegates. To win the nomination without any support from super delegate free agents, you need 1,144 of of 2,166 delegates—52.8 percent.

Thus far, AP estimates that Mitt Romney has won 563 delegates. Thirty-three of them, however, are super delegates. That means Romney has won 530 delegates from primary or caucus voters. The states that have already voted had 1,072 delegates, excluding super delegates, so Romney has won 49.4 percent of non-super delegates. That's below the pace he needs to be winning at in order to be able to secure the nomination without super delegate insiders.

At this point, to secure the nomination without super delegates, Romney would need to win 614 of the 1,195 delegates left to be selected—51.4 percent. That's more than the 49.4 percent he's been winning, but there's a wrinkle: 101 of those 1,195 delegates are unallocated delegates from states that have already voted or begun selecting delegates. Eighty-two of those delegates are from Missouri and Louisiana, both of which Rick Santorum won by large margins. Mitt Romney is therefore unlikely to to win anywhere close to half of those 101 unallocated delegates.

If we're generous and assume that Romney will win 30 of those 101 delegates, he'd still be 584 delegates short of the magic number with 1,094 delegates yet to be selected by Republican voters. To secure the nomination without super delegates he'd need to win 53.3 percent of those delegates. Purely based on Romney's performance so far, he's not likely to hit that mark.

Unless Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich withdraw or Republican primary voters surge to Romney, Romney will finish around 30 delegates short of the magic number. And as the National Journal article points out, Romney will easily get enough support from super delegates to push him over the top. In fact, he already has enough of their support based on current trends, and for Santorum or Gingrich to deny Romney the nomination, they'll have to win enough delegates to put Romney more than 100 short of the magic number. Otherwise, the super delegates can still give it to Romney.

Mitt Romney may have the weakest base of support of any Republican nominee in memory, but he's got even weaker opponents, and thanks to the super delegates, he's got a strong lock on the nomination.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Etch-A-Sketch maths? (5+ / 0-)

    "Rick Perry talks a lot and he's not very bright. And that's a combination I like in Republicans." --- James Carville

    by LaurenMonica on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:59:07 AM PDT

  •  Don't be so sure. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The primary calendar forwards from here favours the Mittbot. And most of the remaining winner-take-all states are in areas expected to be Romney romps. That alone will boost him by several dozen virtually uncontested delegates.

  •  Well (5+ / 0-)

    Well, even if this does turn out to be the case, this is how Walter Mondale won the Dem primary in 1984. He didn't win enough delegates to close the deal, but the superdelegates pushed him over the edge. Of course, things didn't turn out so well for him in the general election, but I don't think that had anything much to do with how he won the nomination.

    •  The Romney - Mondale analogy works (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mistral Wind

      in some ways - the "heir apparent", endorsed for lack of a strong alternative by the party insiders but inspiring little enthusiasm among the base.

      The Obama - Reagan analogy works in some ways, too; the recovering economy with an optimistic, likeable President.

      If it works out that way, I will absolutely take a Reagan versus Mondale sized victory for Obama. :-)

      In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

      by blue aardvark on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 06:46:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This Time Would Be Different (0+ / 0-)

      I don't remember major factions of the Democratic Party in 1984 grumbling that Mondale was a phony DINO being forced upon the party by an insider cabal. Romney, on the other hand, does have that problem, and having to rely on superdelegate votes would exacerbate it.

      On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

      by stevemb on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 07:12:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why can't someone save us from (4+ / 0-)

    Mitt? He is just so obnoxious and entitled and whiney now, I can't even imagine what he'll be like once he's actually nominated!


    In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

    by vcmvo2 on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 02:27:35 PM PDT

  •  IF Mitt has to use SuperDels, TeaParty will SCREAM (5+ / 0-)

    and they will start a holy war within the GOP.

    80 % of success is showing up

    Corporate is not the solution to our problem

    Corporate is the problem

    by Churchill on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 06:37:18 AM PDT

  •  Superdelegates (4+ / 0-)

    Remember all the brouhaha about superdelegates in the 2008 Democratic primary and how pivotal they were? Turned out to be a diversion.

  •  don't Dems have the same thing? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Much ado about nothing?  Jed, you need to find a new topic.

  •  So why don't the super delegates (0+ / 0-)

    commit now, or soon? Putting this thing to bed would have to be good for the party, right? And it would have to look better to the Santorum and Gingrich supporters if the super delegates announced now rather than going into Tampa uncommitted and then voting for Romney.

    Is Romney going to expand the Cabinet to 120 positions so he can offer everyone a Cabinet post?

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 06:44:04 AM PDT

  •  Hey Erick Erickson......this won't hurt a bit..... (0+ / 0-)

    it'd be best though if you just look away.

  •  Santorum will drop out after losing Pennsylvania (0+ / 0-)

    Unlike Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum has an ounce of integrity left, but that's about it.

    Here we are now Entertain us I feel stupid and contagious

    by Scarce on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 06:45:26 AM PDT

  •  I've seen this movie before. (0+ / 0-)

    Mittens will have the most pledged delegates, correct?  

    Obama campaign manager David Plouffe insists the pledged delegate count is the best measure of voters' wishes.

    "The Clintons are always very creative about trying to create new paths for themselves to the nomination," he said.

    Living proof that hard work can raise your apparent skill level.

    by SpamNunn on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 06:46:06 AM PDT

  •  Last primary results reported Monday in the comic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    New Adventures of Queen Victoria.  "Man on dog 35%, Dog on car 32%, Deer in headlights 24%, creature from Mars 9%"

    Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

    by J Edward on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 06:51:19 AM PDT

  •  What difference does it make? (0+ / 0-)
    At this point, to secure the nomination without super delegates, Romney would need to win 614 of the 1,195 delegates left to be selected—51.4 percent.
    What difference does it make where Romney's delegate count at the convention comes from - primaries, caucuses or super delegates?  Does it make any difference at all?

    Super delegates are the stupidest thing that ever happened to political conventions anyway.

    "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

    by SueDe on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 06:54:21 AM PDT

    •  Hah. But that is the sytem we all lose. (0+ / 0-)


      There will be 120 uncommitted, unelected RNC super delegates in Tampa, ..., these super delegates can put him over the top.
      Probably will be picked in the smokey back "green" Room.

      Notice: This Comment © 2012 ROGNM

      by ROGNM on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 07:00:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It Makes A Difference To Voter Perceptions (0+ / 0-)

      If Mitt wins enough delegates in the primaries/caucuses, the Tea Party types who don't like him will find it a little easier to hold their noses and vote for him -- he got the nomination fair and square.

      If he has to rely on superdelegates, that would be seen as proof that he only got the nomination because the insiders put the fix in for him.

      On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

      by stevemb on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 07:15:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mitt the pitts GOP nod is done - except for the (0+ / 0-)

    time to spread the money flow of buying ads to get there.

    If you desire a better world - be a better person.

    by laserhaas on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 06:57:12 AM PDT

  •  NJ makes Romney's math easier (0+ / 0-)

    50 delegates, winner takes all. Assume Mittens wins NJ, and I believe that makes Romney's current record of winning ~49% of delegates sufficient to get over the top.

  •  I'd Love To See The Fallout From That (0+ / 0-)

    It would be just the thing to cement Romney's image as a candidate foisted upon the True Conservative masses by cynical RINO Establishment power brokers.

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 07:09:58 AM PDT

  •  Why would RNCers choose Romney? (0+ / 0-)

    Is it really true that the overwhelming majority of these RNC members who make up these 120 unbound (and not chosen by any of the campaigns) superdelegates support Romney over some "true conservative"?

    I will readily concede that if Romney is indeed only 30 or so votes short of 50%+1 after delegate selection is done, sure, he gets those 30 and the convention is your standard locked affair.  Thats because I assume that at least 25% of these RNC folks would prefer Romney, and, quite aside from their candidate preference, they would be inclined to get the convention to a lock, given the massive uncertainties involved in an open convention.

    But this bias in favor of getting to a lock works both ways.  If the non-Romney total is within 30 or so votes of 50%+1 in June, I can't see why that same logic wouldn't incline these superdelegates to lock the convention down for some non-Romney.  I imagine that there are at least 30 of these RNC folks who would prefer a "true conservative" to the Etch-a-Sketch conservative.

    The pragmatic desire to get to a lock only starts to dominate ideological preference if either side is very close to 50%+1, and it isn't at all clear to me that ideological preference swings for Romney.  He's the "moderate" in this race, and "moderate" seems to be a dirty word on their side.

    I think we have to add another set of considerations to these two dynamics -- ideological preference and pragmatic desire to get to a lock -- and this new factor favors non-Romney.  

    A convention that locks for Romney is game over.  These RNC members return to their former lives of obscurity and powerlessness, as the Romney campaign takes over the running of the convention, the rules for the next convention, the campaign this year -- everything.

    A convention that locks for non-Romney leaves these swing superdelegates as the king-makers this year, and lets them write the rules for next cycle.  If it locks for non-Romney, the only thing that will have been decided will be that this year's nominee won't be named Romney.  Everything else will still be open, will still leave these superdelegates the balance of power in every other decision.

    We should have destroyed the presidency before Obama took office. Too late now.

    by gtomkins on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 07:18:10 AM PDT

  •  most of the super delegates want something (0+ / 0-)



    spot on the ticket

    a highway or bridge

    The first is the easiest for Romney.

  •  I'll say it again: the Fix has ALWAYS been in (0+ / 0-)

    Jed, I hope you and the National Journal aren't just discovering these pools of super delegates, unbound delegates, state-party appointed delegates, and other forms of throwing the fix in for the establishment candidate. This is SOP for the GOP and has been for quite a while.

    Look beyond the super delegates, look at the delegate allocation rules, you'll see party bosses lining up the delegates for Romney years and years ago.

    The candidate is selected ahead of time, and no where has this been more obvious in recent cycles than Willard M. Romney.

    We have wasted a lot of time here following a horse race that was decided before the ponies even got to the gate.

    Follow the money.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 07:40:24 AM PDT

  •  We have a full list of superdelegates (0+ / 0-)

    If you want to see the actual list of supers and who they endorse you can find them here:

    News & views about the 2012 Elections and the 2012 National Conventions at Democratic Convention Watch

    by Oreo on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 08:35:17 AM PDT

  •  Tea Party Dilemmas (0+ / 0-)

    Have we joined the insiders to back the insider's choice?  Or are we independent of and opposed to the insiders, and thus must oppose their choice?  

    Will we be represented at the convention by activists or sheep?  

    The robb'd that smiles steals something from the thief. -- Shakespeare

    by not2plato on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 10:20:50 AM PDT

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