The Highlight Reel
- Jan. 31: Mitt Romney wins Florida.
- Feb. 4: Mitt Romney wins Nevada.
- Feb. 7: Rick Santorum wins Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri in a clean sweep.
- Feb.11: Mitt Romney comes back, winning Maine by a wide margin.
- Obama has been taking fire (as well as mounds of cash) in the wake of his decision to fundraise through the super PAC Priorities USA Action. Critics’ charges of hypocrisy cite Obama’s stance against the Citizens United ruling that allows opaque, unlimited, and relatively unregulated election spending through super PACs. But as re-election campaign manager Jim Messina says, “we’re not going to fight this fight with one hand tied behind our back… Democrats can’t be unilaterally disarmed.”
- Rick Santorum released four years of tax returns. The joint returns with his wife reveal income ranging from $659K to $1.1M and a tax rate of around 30%—roughly double what Mittens pays.
- Santorum has also been leading Romney in national polls, further wearing away Romney’s air of inevitability. This is extra impressive given that Team Santorum lacks a campaign headquarters, a pollster, a competitive budget, or an inspiring candidate. As Josh Marshall puts it, “running around the country in a long twilight struggle with Rick Santorum is… like struggling to land a one-pound fish or searching for the way out of a paper bag.” Nonetheless, as of Feb. 20:
- However, Santorum is increasingly taking hits for his conservative stances, controversial statements, and perceived hypocrisy. An example: Top Ten Catholic Teachings Santorum Rejects while Obsessing about Birth Control.
- Mitt Romney is now being flanked by Secret Service protection. As predicted, the Internet had a ball contributing suggestions for possible code names. Top entries: Grey Poupon, White Shadow, Mom Jeans, Vanilla, Dry Toast, and Mitt Romney.
Good to Know
What is a Super PAC?
“Super” Political Action Committees were born in 2010 and are officially known as “independent-expenditure only committees.” Unlike campaign committees, where donations are capped, super PACs can raise unlimited cash and are not legally obligated to disclose their contributors. Most of the negative campaigning we’ve seen this season has occurred not from candidates’ own campaign committees, but from super PACs aligned either with a particular candidate or against a candidate. Since candidates cannot “coordinate” with such super PACs, they can dissociate from attacks on their behalf while reaping the benefits of driving up their rivals’ negatives.
Primary vs. Caucus vs. Binding Caucus
What’s the difference between a caucus (Iowa) and a primary (New Hampshire)? What about non-binding vs. binding caucus, or the difference between an open, semi-open, and closed primary?
A caucus is basically a private meeting run by a political party. So in this case, Republican voters attend local private meetings to express their selections for a nominee, and Democrats aren’t invited. Party members collectively decide on their candidate preferences. A regular caucus binds that state’s delegates to vote for the chosen candidate at the party convention, but a non-binding caucus means that these delegates are not committed to the candidate who wins. Unbound delegates remain up for grabs going into the convention in the late summer.
A primary election is run by the state or local government and works by typical ballot casting. Primaries can also be binding or non-binding, with the same rules of commitment applying to state delegates.
A closed primary only allows registered party members to vote, whereas a semi-closed primary allows party members and independents, and an open primary allows voters with any party affiliation.
The delegate allocation can be winner-take-all (winning candidate gets all the delegates and they are committed), proportional (candidates get committed delegates in proportion to their take of the vote), or convention/unbound (which means they don’t officially get the support of any delegates at the time of their victory, although delegates generally do end up voting for the candidate that wins their state).
Example 1: Even though Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have carried four states each (compared to one for Gingrich and zero for Paul), Santorum’s pledged delegates can be counted on one hand, whereas Romney has around 90. Why? Essentially, the states won by Romney have bound delegates, often winner-take-all, while Santorum’s states all have unbound delegates. Santorum’s only pledged delegates have come from his small minority take in states that allocate delegates by proportion of the vote.
Example 2: Team Ron Paul has publicized its expectation to take Maine’s delegates at the Republican convention in August, despite the fact that Maine was won by Mitt Romney. This is because Maine’s delegates are unpledged, which means that they are not bound to support a specific candidate and could independently decide to support a candidate that didn’t win their state, e.g., Ron Paul.
What’s Up Next
- Tuesday, February 28: Arizona and Michigan vote in their primaries. Mitt Romney is backed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Yet despite Romney’s political ties and heavy spending in Michigan, polls show Santorum leading. Romney is leading Santorum in Arizona polls, but just barely (36-33). Looks like the McCain endorsement hasn’t helped Romney a whole lot in the Senator’s home state.
- Romney and Santorum are the current national frontrunners to watch. Expect Romney to keep attacking Santorum’s senatorial record and lack of executive experience. Expect Santorum to keep attacking Romney’s failure to pass the Turing test.
- “I don’t blame Santorum for not believing in evolution. It’s really let him down.” —Andy Borowitz
- Bad news, America. According to Michele Bachmann, you missed your chance with the perfect candidate.
- There was never any possibility that this wouldn’t happen: Ladies and gentlemen, the “Sh*t Mitt Romney Says” video.
- Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Mitt Romney condom line made its debut in New York. The tagline: “Never Settle.”
- Heartbreak: Herman Cain has turned down an offer to appear on Dancing with the Stars. According to an assistant, “he can’t dance in an eight-count. He can only dance in a nine-count.”
- We all know the results of spreadingsantorum.com. Now it’s time to welcome spreadingromney.com. It’s still only the second Google result for “Romney” but the term might start to get more mileage if polling data keeps pummeling Mitt. Have a better idea? “Spreading Gingrich” is still up for grabs.
Check out more Election Updates from The Daily Muse!