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For Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, It’s All About Collecting Delegates

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Ben Jacobs
Daily Beast
January 24, 2012

While Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney try to knock each other off, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum are picking and choosing their battlegrounds to accumulate enough delegates to survive the long term.

The goal now, said top Rick Santorum strategist John Brabender, is “long-term survivability, not big wins.”

What politicians know—and what the press would rather you didn’t—is that the Republican nomination is not a popularity contest. Really, it’s not even a public election, but a party affair (as are Democratic nominations) where voters don’t pick a candidate, but a delegate to the Republican National Convention, who in turn picks a candidate—and not always the one voters asked him or her to pick. It’s a complicated, often indirect process that gives some states far more influence than others, and makes the Electoral College seem straightforward by comparison.

Take the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory located on a handful of barren coral atolls in the middle of the Pacific and with less than one sixtieth the population of Iowa. Yet it awards nine delegates to the Republican National Convention—about a third as many as the Hawkeye State.

What all this means is that a smart but underfunded campaign can adjust its strategy to focus on states where it can get the most bang for its buck and accumulate delegates in excess of its total support. See: Barack Obama, 2008. Although Hillary Clinton edged out Obama in high-turnout primaries in traditional Democratic strongholds like Massachusetts and California, she was trounced in the delegate count in low-turnout caucuses like Minnesota and Idaho. At the end of the contest, Obama and Clinton were nearly deadlocked in the total national popular vote, but Obama had eked out a narrow but decisive lead in the delegate count.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:20 am





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