The Brokered Convention - A Short StorySubmitted by Raymond on Thu, 12/08/2011 - 16:35
I believe it will come down to the convention. Here is how we got there:
Throughout December of 2011 Paul continued to poll well in Iowa and began to close the gap in New Hampshire. The final Des Moines Register poll before the Caucus showed Paul coming in at 22% slightly behind Gingrich’s 24% but ahead of the 4 way-tie for third of Romney, Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum all at 11%. January 3rd 2012 was an unseasonable warm day in Iowa with a high temperature in the mid 50’s. The talking heads were predicting that Paul could only win, if there was a blizzard, since his supporters were so dedicated. The blizzard never came. Unless, you count the blizzard of voters to the caucuses. This also seemed to work against Paul. Paul was expected to get his same 20,000 votes regardless of the overall turnout. At 7 pm as the voters were on their way to their caucus meeting place, the media began trumpeting how it looked like it could be a record turnout. They were right on that count. Total attendees ended up being north of 130,000 Iowans. But the real show was did not come until the caucuses started reporting their results. By 9:30 central time the Ron-slide was in full swing. The early results from the rural areas told the story. Paul was getting as much as 50% of the vote in some counties and was getting at least 25% percent everywhere. When the metropolitan areas started reporting, it dampened Paul’s results some, but not by much. The end result looked like this.
After the first 48 hours of new stories, the narrative seemed to settle on; Paul did everything right. He really had expanded his base of support and he had a perfect storm of things fall into place. Gingrich never could quite catch up in money and organization even after polling in the 30’s nationally for a month. Romney was actually marginally successful at spinning his night as a win. After engaging in Iowa in early December, he made and abrupt reversal and doubled down on the “I am not trying” narrative. When he was able to beat his poll numbers by a couple percent, it showed some strength. Bachmann claimed that she had tied for 3rd and claimed that that was enough for her to continue on to New Hampshire. Santorum was under no such illusion and suspended his campaign the next morning. He went on to endorse Newt Gingrich the next week, but the seven supporters he had outside of Iowa, did not seem to notice. Perry talked up his chances to jumpstart his campaign in South Carolina, but the writing was already on the wall that South Carolina would not get here soon enough to save him.
New Hampshire was up next. With only seven days between Iowa and New Hampshire, no one seemed to have the time to regroup. The handful of polls taken during that week showed a small bump for Paul, but not much change for anyone else. When the results began to come in, it became clear that the pollsters were missing a segment of Paul’s voters somewhere:
The story after New Hampshire was all over the place. Romney was still ok, because he has held serve in his own backyard. Gingrich was ok, because he still had a huge lead in the next state to vote, South Carolina. Paul seemed to be forcing himself into the frontrunner conversation, but was polling poorly in South Carolina and Florida. Huntsman seemed to get a modest boost after his 3rd place finish and really picked up some steam in Florida. Bachmann and Perry, were both living on a prayer for South Carolina to save their campaign. Johnson, choose to exit the field after New Hampshire, after what had to be considered a successful couple of states relative to expectations. He left the option open to continuing his bid on the Libertarian Party ticket, but he could also be laying up to play for Paul’s voters in 2016, when he may be able to make a real run at the nomination.
Then the next big news story broke. Three days after New Hampshire, Sarah Palin broke her neutrality and endorsed Ron Paul, indicating that he had demonstrated that he was a viable candidate for the nomination and that Romney and Gingrich were just too inconsistent with their positions. This seemed to bump Paul in South Carolina from 6% up to the 10-12% range. It also led to the first string of national polls showing Paul in the mid-teens. South Carolina would winnow the field further.
South Carolina spelled the end for Perry and Bachmann. Huntsman had done surprisingly well and was continuing to show strength in Florida. Paul, arguably had good news relative to where his South Carolina polling had been just a couple of weeks earlier. Gingrich was a big winner, having beaten Romney by 15%. Romney still maintained a sizable war chest and establishment support, but Gingrich was closing that gap and had just reported raising almost $20 million during the 4th quarter of 2011. Florida looked like it would be another good state for Gingrich. And it was:
Nevada would produce another surprise, as the field would be flipped again:
During February, Romney would win Michigan, Gingrich took Arizona, and Paul was the surprise winner in Maine. Huntsman would drop out of the race just in advance of Super Tuesday. The race was starting to look like a draw with all three of the remaining candidates having won multiple states and having a fair amount of delegates. Gingrich led the delegate race marginally on the strength of his Florida win, but even that was muted, since Florida had their delegate total cut in half. Super Tuesday would do nothing to sort things out. After ten states voted that day the net result was:
Romney 35% of the delegates
Paul would finally begin to pick up some support from outside the grassroots, with an endorsement from Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn. A number of other outside conservative groups would also start to come around to Paul. Overall, the establishment was still behind Romney, the disinterested masses, behind Gingrich, and the grassroots activist behind Paul. Even in April, as states started to hand out delegates on a winner-takes-all basis, things stayed tight. Paul was able to pick up a couple western states and got a big boost by landing his home state of Texas. Romney cleaned up in the populous Northeast also took California with Gingrich winning much of the South and the Midwest. After the final state voted, Republicans were no closer to a resolution. Heading into the Convention the delegate count stood like this:
The press was all in a tizzy about what a brokered convention would look like. The prevailing opinion was that it would of course have to be Romney or Gingrich, since they were both a good bit higher in the count than Paul and that the loser would end up as the parties Vice Presidential candidate. For the past 60 days, all three candidates had been brushing up on the party bylaws, and had begun reaching out to the parties delegates to the convention to try to persuade them to flip allegiance. The first vote required all of the delegates to vote according to how they were bound to vote as required by their state’s primary or caucus results. The ceremonial vote ended up just as it was supposed to end, with Gingrich and Romney roughly tied and Paul in third.
After the first round all delegates were released from being bound to a candidate and the arm-twisting began. All the candidates and numerous party officials gave speeches and tried to convince the delegates to come around to their point of view. Nobody knew how the next round of voting would turn out. The prevailing wisdom is that one of the two frontrunners would make some progress relative to the other and then some grand bargain would allow the gaining candidate to secure the remaining votes needed with an offer of Vice President. Then the unexpected happened. The delegates cast their votes in the second round of balloting and after the totals were counted it was Paul who had seen a sizeable gain. In fact Paul received 52% on the second round ballot along with 29% for Gingrich and 19% for Romney.
This resulted in a real firestorm. Everyone was screaming fraud and refused to believe the results. What they did not know is that Paul’s avid supporters had taken the delegate process very seriously. Even in states that Paul did not have a very large presence of voters, he tended to have an outsized percentage of activists making themselves available to be delegates. These Paul supporters had infiltrated local party organizations and had then voted themselves to positions of state party structures. These party officials were the ones frequently that decided who would get to be a delegate to the national convention. It was in this way that Ron Paul became the 2012 Republican Nominee. Of course the rest is history. Paul was jointly nominated to run on the Libertarian and Constitutional Party ticket, and after sweeping 66% of the independent vote in the general election, Paul ended up winning 46 states.
The moral of this story? Go become a delegate!