06 March 2012

Super Tuesday Recap: Gingrich Fool or Tool?

Newt "Moonbase" Gingrich continues to verge on delusional in his campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination, failing to land 50% of the vote in his home state of Georgia, not making it onto the ballot in either Virginia or Vermont, and not even winning states like Tennessee or Oklahoma that one needs in a "Southern strategy" to win the nomination. Also, unlike Ron Paul, who is in it to push an ideology rather than to win, for Gingrich it is all about him. Gingrich remained utterly oblivious to reality after tonight's results, at least for this evening's victory speech celebrating his win in Georgia. Maybe he will sober up in the morning.

Colorado will declare deep sea fishing and surfing to be the state's official sports before Gingrich comes anywhere close to winning the GOP nomination at this point, and yet he seems intent on casting doubt on his sanity and intelligence, in addition his already blackened ethical reputation.

Gingrich may have no shot at winning, but he is effectively serving as a spoiler for Rick Santorum, who would otherwise be handily defeating Mitt Romney all over the map. The Gingrich plus Santorum vote frequently significantly exceeds the Romney vote, and often enough, for example, in Ohio, the Gingrich plus Santorum vote exceeds the Romney plus Paul vote.

As a result of the spoiler effects flowing from the fact that Gingrich is still running, Romney has a big lead in the delegate count as the long meandering Presidential primary process, with its hodge podge of different rules in every state, works its way thought the nation. Santorum needs almost 60% of the remaining delegate to win the primary, while Romney needs less than 45% of the remaining delegates to win, and Romney would still realistically win the nomination even if he fell a few delegates short of an absolute majority in the first round.

Indeed, the only way one can understand Gingrich to be anything other than demented is if he is deliberately trying to be a tool whose goal is really to advance Romney's candidacy with an expectation of getting something in return (e.g. a Vice Presidency if he can deny Romney a majority of the delegates needed to win outright). I'm more inclined to think that Gingrich is just terminally narcissistic, but a more conspiratorially inclined person who has more respect for Gingrich's mental capacities might disagree.

Ron Paul, of course, has yet to pick up a first place finish in any state, although he might have an outside shot at prevailing in Alaska's preference poll. Paul's only second place finishes this evening so far have been in states where he was the only candidate other than Romney on the ballot who is still running (Vermont and Virginia). The fact that Paul's stances on policy issues are only remotely similar to those of the Republican party whose nomination he is seeking might have something to do with that fact.

The voting patterns generally track the meme that Romney is winning in areas that are more liberal and urban, while Santorum is winning in places that are more conservative and rural. Some trends are boring and expected and this is one of them.

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