Sunday, March 25, 2012

Using Political Geography to Interpret the Primary Results of the Republican Presidential Primaries

2012 Republican presidential primary victory results as of March 26.  Orange is Mitt Romney, Green is Rick Santorum, Purple is Newt Gingrich, and Yellow is Ron Paul.  Image from Wikipedia
As of March 26 the Republican presidential primaries continues.  Most analysis focuses on former Governor Mitt Romney's ever creeping majority of delegates inching closer to the nomination.  While there are many ways to estimate the exact count the CNN estimate is

Mitt Romney:  568
Rick Santorum:  261
Newt Gingrich:  137
Ron Paul:  71

Since this is geography blog let us examine the geography of the results.  So far there have been thirty-four contests.  The win count so far is

Mitt Romney:  20
Rick Santorum:  11
Newt Gingrich:  2
Ron Paul:  1

However, when one only counts states by excluding territories and commonwealths the results are

Mitt Romney:  16
Rick Santorum:  11
Newt Gingrich:  2
Ron Paul:  0

Electability (the ability of the candidate to defeat President Barack Obama) is commonly cited as a deciding factor in voting.  Examining these contests as an election, with each candidate winning electoral votes the results are

Mitt Romney:  161
Rick Santorum:  85
Newt Gingrich:  25
Ron Paul:  0

However, some argue that electoral vote counting a primary has to factor in that not all primaries matters.  For instance, Mitt Romney easily won the Massachusetts Republican primary but he would probably lose Massachusetts in the general election thus negating the value of Massachusetts.  The following table only counts the electoral votes of states which have already voted in the primaries and voted for President George Bush in 2000 and/or 2004.

Mitt Romney:  91
Rick Santorum:  85
Newt Gingrich: 25
Ron Paul:  0

This last one can be used by those who oppose Mitt Romney because it shows non-Romney candidates having more electoral votes in states that voted Republican.  However, Romney supporters can rebut this by saying his crossover appeal can win "purple states" like Michigan.  Also note that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have only won Bush-era Red States.

Any way you count the primary results so far Mitt Romney is leading.  However, depending on what argument one wants to use the race is either all but officially declared over or neck-and-neck.  While this argument is fun, the candidates are now focusing on Rick Santorum's need to win 74% of all remaining delegates to stop Mitt Romney.

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