Thursday, March 8, 2012

Onwards to the Sunflower State: The GOP Contest Moves to Kansas after a not so Super “Super Tuesday”

Kansas, the “Sunflower State” will hold its Republican caucus on Saturday March 10, 2012, after the Super Tuesday on March 6. Three small U.S. territories, namely Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands will also hold their Republican caucuses. While these “minnow” caucuses will not be binding, the caucus of staunchly Republican and conservative state of Kansas will be. Therefore, any eventual Presidential candidate of the GOP will prefer to establish his credibility beforehand in Kansas by winning its caucus with a convincing margin.

The four contesters have a few days to campaign in the “Sunflower State” after a not so super “Super Tuesday”. The battle for 419 delegates in 10 states ended rather unconvincingly, which shows that the Republicans are still divided over who their candidate should be. Mitt Romney, as expected, did well in his home state, Massachusetts and also in Virginia and Vermont. He also came up the winner in Idaho which was not surprising. Yet, his victory at Ohio was a shock to many, not the least to Rick Santorum. The latter lost in urban areas in Ohio and even the Catholics chose Romney over him, which was rather surprising. Romney needed a surprise victory to boost his campaign and if it was to happen on Super Tuesday, Ohio was the best place to be.

Newt Gingrich of Georgia easily won the contest in his home state but has nothing else to boast of. However, he has pledged to carry on the fight, stating that he is a tortoise among some bunny rabbits in the race, who take one step at a time. Let us for a moment assume that he Gingrich be compared with the tortoise in the proverbial “tortoise versus rabbit race”. However, it is highly doubtful if the “rabbits” of this particular race will do their duty; that of falling asleep. With the three others working on the contest, the two front runners are expected to easily defeat the Georgian.

Meanwhile, the Texan Ron Paul is actually playing the role of “the tortoise”. He is fighting a losing but noteworthy battle. It shows that he wants to lose with pride if he has to lose. He pulled three delegates ‘right under Romney’s nose’ by winning the vote at the smallest Congressional District in Virginia. He has done well in several other states but lacks enough clout or popularity to make an upset.

Meanwhile, the only one who can feasibly challenge Mitt Romney is the former Senator from Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. Newt Gingrich is making it hard for the fellow conservative to defeat Romney. If not for Gingrich splitting the conservative votes, he would have won several contests which ended up very close, such as that of Ohio. Santorum was initially leading the contest in the state but when the urban areas began reporting the results, Romney gained steadily. From 1972, the winner of the GOP contest in Ohio has gone on to win the primaries. Romney intends to keep that record as it is.

With the contest still uncertain, it has become a battle of attrition where the endurance and the financial means of the contestants become vital. Romney is by far the largest spender and will have the means to carry on. Meanwhile, the exchange of words of accusations between the contesters will be counterproductive. Even the Republicans may get tired of this long battle.

Therefore, Mitt Romney will have an important advantage over his rivals at the Kansas caucuses on March 10. Those who do not want the party to be embroiled in a long contest may chose to vote for the most probable candidate to win. This factor usually precludes the possibility of a “tortoise” chasing down some “bunny rabbits” in a presidential primary. However, a conservative Kansas may chose otherwise and vote for Santorum or less probably, Gingrich. Other advantages Romney has are his business background, which will endear him to some, and the fact that Santorum and Gingrich are splitting the conservative votes. Even though he would not mind losing Kansas, Romey would not be reluctant to accept another "Ohio effect" on March 10.

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