The Political Forecast & Review
March 26, 2012
By Jim Ellis
Notwithstanding the Illinois and Louisiana primaries, this past week’s presidential campaign lacked the emotional spark of previous periods. The Land of Lincoln vote, which Mitt Romney won 47-35% over Pennsylvania former Sen. Rick Santorum, went as forecast - one of the few states, so far, to perform in such a manner. In most of the others, pollsters have underestimated Santorum’s strength.
On Saturday, the candidates headed to Louisiana where the same pollsters projected Santorum to be leading Romney. The Bayou State became a must-win for the former Senator, so necessary in providing him needed momentum for the April 3 contests that include Wisconsin, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. And, win he did. Santorum scored a 49-27-16-6% victory over Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14).
Turing to early April, the District of Columbia, which is expected to be a very strong Romney entity, is in the Winner-Take-All category. That means a first place finish will reward the victorious candidate with 17 DC delegates. For Maryland and Wisconsin to fall into the Winner-Take-All category (37 and 42 delegates, respectively), a candidate must carry the statewide vote and all eight of each state’s congressional districts. Polling suggests Romney has a good chance of sweeping Maryland. Wisconsin is likely to divide its 42 delegates.
Santorum, in particular, needs a strong showing in Wisconsin. It can serve as a springboard into the critical April 24th primaries that include his home state of Pennsylvania (72 delegates), New York (95), Connecticut (28), Rhode Island (19), and Delaware (17). Of this group, only Delaware is a straight Winner-Take-All state. New York and Connecticut can become WTA, but a candidate must receive a majority of the statewide vote to do so, which is improbable. Rhode Island is straight proportional and Pennsylvania, like Illinois, is a Loophole Primary. A Loophole Primary is one in which the people vote for a presidential candidate and then cast a direct vote for individuals seeking to become national delegates from their congressional district. Typically, these delegates have more voting flexibility at convention than do those from other states because they are directly elected in their own right.
Following April 24th, the campaign moves to Indiana (46 delegates), North Carolina (55), and West Virginia (31) all on May 8th. This will be a critical day for Santorum as he should be favored in all of these states.
Pressure is mounting upon Santorum to withdraw from the race and concede to Romney, but the Pennsylvanian counters by arguing the delegate count is far from secure for his opponent, and that the Massachusetts former Governor is still less than halfway to committing 1,144 votes required to clinch the nomination.
Aside from two new polls showing recurring patterns in Virginia and Massachusetts - a dead even VA race between former Sen. George Allen (R) and ex-Gov. Tim Kaine (D), and a Bay State see-saw battle featuring Sen. Scott Brown (R) and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren (D) - Quinnipiac University found some interesting data coming from the state of Connecticut. In the race to replace retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman (I), Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-CT-5) seemed to be the early odds-on favorite to capture the seat. The new Q-Poll suggests, however, that a match-up between Murphy and former Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT-4) could actually become a toss-up. In fact, their March 14-19 survey of 1,622 Connecticut voters reveals the two are separated by just one point, with Murphy leading 41-40%
Linda McMahon, the 2010 Republican nominee who, together with her husband Vince, owned and managed the WWE professional wrestling organization, is well behind Murphy, however, trailing 52-37%. McMahon owns a 51-42% advantage over Shays in the Republican primary, a margin that could dissipate because the state’s nominating election won’t occur until August.
Under the right circumstances, Connecticut, despite its history of Democratic voting trends, could become competitive in 2012.
The big House race news is the Illinois primary and ramifications associated with the results. Republicans are on the hot seat in the Land of Lincoln as Democrats, with complete control of the redistricting pen, drew a congressional map that will likely net them significant gains in their federal delegation.
The biggest news of the evening unfolded with two Republican Congressmen battling each other over one new district. Freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL-11), whose previous district was split into six different parts, defeated twenty-year veteran Don Manzullo (R-IL-16) in the new northern Illinois 16th District. The incumbent vs. incumbent battle yielded a 54-46% Kinzinger win.
Expect five hotly contested general election campaigns among the state’s 18 districts. It is more likely than not that Democrats will gain at least three seats here in November. This would make the current 11R-8D delegation into something closer to parity between the two parties. Breaking even, however, would be a boon to Republicans since the state votes so heavily Democratic.
With Ohio, Alabama, and Illinois now in the 2012 primary election books, the next states to host intra-party congressional elections are Maryland on April 3rd and Pennsylvania on April 24th.
Jim Ellis is a professional election analyst who has worked in national campaign politics and grassroots issue advocacy since 1978. He currently writes and speaks as a member of the PRIsm Information Network.