Sunday, February 5, 2012

Social Roots of the Enduring Support Gingrich is Recieving --The Story the Media is Missing

The media have been abuzz with commentary about how former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is the front-runner in the 2012 Republican presidential contest.
They have missed analyzing the county-level returns. In contest after contest, the social conservatives, first former Senator Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania), then former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Georgia) have been cleaning up in the non-urban, cultural periphery parts of states and their primary or caucus contests.

First, in the Iowa caucuses, Santorum won the majority of the counties, and particularly, he won the rural counties. (See this county map of the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses.)

Next, in the South Carolina primary (January 21) Gingrich swept to victory in the parts of the state that were outside of the state capital, Columbia and the Atlantic Ocean coast with Charleston and Myrtle Beach. (See this county map of the 2012 South Carolina Republican primary.)

In Florida on January 31 Gingrich got all but three counties in the western part of the state, including counties north and west of the county containing Alachua, and west of the county containing Jacksonville. (See this county map of the 2012 Florida Republican primary.) Presaging the Super Tuesday contest at the beginning of March, Gingrich handily beat Romney in the Florida panhandle, adjacent to Georgia.

Even in yesterday's Nevada caucuses, Romney's support was not quite as strong in the western part of the state.
In Minnesota we can expect some drama as this was one of the better Huckabee states (he was the leading social conservative since the 2008 race), as he got 19.88 percent of the votes in the 2008 caucus.

One can also see a county level map of the whole U.S.A.of the winning pluralities in the 2008 race as part of this 2008 comparison process. Assuming that these depictions are useful future predictions, in the next coming contests, Romney will do quite well in Colorado (Feb. 7), Gingrich will have a level of a come-back in the Minnesota caucus (Feb. 7), Gingrich will have a level of a come-back in Missouri (it has a non-binding primary on February 7 but its binding caucus is on March 17), Romney will will do well in the Maine caucus (February 11) but will share the win with Paul in parts, and Gingrich will have a resurgence in Super Tuesday, particularly in the authentic South (e.g., Georgia as opposed to Florida).

Santorum is in trouble and you would think that he would consider dropping out, he has not exceeded 18 percent of the vote any contest since New Hampshire on January 10, his highest recent response being 17.0 percent in the South Carolina primary.

The winner-take-all ("WTA") dynamic has a way of encouraging candidates to leave the race. Notice the heavy load of delegates racked up for John McCain in the 2008 contest; yet, Romney won many contests as well. However, the WTA delegate stack meant that the delegate accumulation did not happen for Romney, only in significant numbers for McCain. Note these patterns in the 2008 race, in a chronological wikipedia table of vote and delegate distribution for each primary; wearying of the delegate accumulation for McCain, Romney dropped out fight after the February 5, 2008 Super Tuesday primaries.
This year, 2012, however, with more contests having proportional distribution of delegates and candidates insistent on staying in the race after front-runner momentum shows futility for the less successful candidates. (i.e., Think of Santorum in particular.)

* * *
It is interesting that Newt Gingrich has not pointed this out more clearly:
Romney is the sole moderate remaining in the Republican presidential race now. Four years ago in 2008 he split the moderate vote with John McCain.
Now, with no McCain in the race, he has not once been able to lift voter enthusiasm beyond the 48 percent mark.
With McCain out of the way, he should be able to win with rates of 70 percent or more.
(Compare with the percentages that Romney and McCain got in the 2008 primary season.)
Yet, look at the states where Romney and his media boosters have trumpeted; Romney has not once broken through the 48 percent point:
New Hampshire, January 10, 39.3 percent
Florida, January 31, 46.4 percent
Nevada, February 4, 47.6 percent

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