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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Category: Uncategorized
March 29, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Mitt Romney vs. Rick Santorum means Catholics vs. Evangelicals for the win in Wisconsin’s open, winner-takes-all primary

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney
Rick Santorum in Detroit, Michigan on February 25, 2012. (James Fassinger/The Guardian) and Mitt Romney (Photo courtesy of

A look at 2008 Wisconsin Republican primary results may provide some clues to how the voting Tuesday might turn out in the state’s important primary.

The Wisconsin primary was significantly earlier in the campaign calendar in 2008, taking place on February 19. Both 2008 and 2012, however, fall after Super Tuesday.

Wisconsin is “winner-takes-all” with a total of 42 delegates. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, this style of primary means that the candidate who receives a plurality of the vote in any congressional district gains all three delegates from that district, and the statewide winner is entitled to all of the at-large delegates. Additionally, Wisconsin has an “open” primary, so voters do not need to declare any party affiliation to vote.

In the 2008 Republican presidential primary, John McCain won with 55% of the vote, taking 34 of the 40 delegates. Mike Huckabee received 37% of the vote and 6 delegates. Finally, Ron Paul came in with just under 5% of the vote, with no delegates. (Mitt Romney had dropped out of the race by this point.) Huckabee withdrew his candidacy just two weeks after the Wisconsin primaries.


Comments | Topics: catholics, Evangelicals, John McCain

March 28, 2012 at 6:30 AM

The Etch A Sketch impact

Illustration by Jessica Esch. ( One week ago this morning, Mitt Romney was still patting himself on the back after a double-digit victory in the March 20 Illinois primary. The celebration was short lived. Later that day, Romney communications director Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on CNN and when answering a question related to conservative stances if his candidate…


Comments | Topics: CNN, Election 2012, Etch-a-Sketch

March 27, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Republican delegate convention in Pierce County messy, long, and favored Rick Santorum

Republican presidential candidates Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum (Photos courtesy of,,, and

Note: this is the second of two related posts on the state of the 2012 Republican presidential contest. Part 1 was posted yesterday morning.

TACOMA — The Republican presidential nomination is not over yet, Rick Santorum says. Part of his campaign’s argument is that delegates in caucus states will be allocated to him in greater numbers than the popular votes were on caucus day.

The Pierce County Republican Party convention on Saturday is one place to test Santorum’s view.

The results suggest Santorum might be right.

On March 3, Mitt Romney handily won Washington state’s presidential straw poll at the GOP caucuses, garnering 38% of the statewide caucus vote to 25% for Ron Paul and 24% for Santorum. In Pierce County specifically, Romney won 38% of the vote, Santorum won 26% and Paul received 23%.

That was the popular straw vote on caucus day. In Washington, as in many other caucus states, the official process of appropriating delegates to candidates begins at the precinct caucuses — but is entirely separate from the straw vote — and then moves to the county, and finally to the state level.


Comments | Topics: conservatives, delegates, GOP

March 26, 2012 at 10:28 AM

Rick Santorum uses Supreme Court hearings to hit Mitt Romney on health care

Rick Santorum's motorcade arriving outside Supreme Court on March 26, 2012 (Photo courtesy of Katie Bosland via twitter). Rick Santorum is holding a public event and press conference outside the Supreme Court right now to hit Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney on health care. It’s a smart move by Santorum as Romney has to navigate one of…


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, healthcare, Heath care

March 26, 2012 at 5:45 AM

Party leaders, news media say Republican nomination is over, but Romney still faces landmines

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum bowls in Wisconsin on March 24, 2012. (Photo by Wausau, Wisconsin Daily Herald)

Note: this is the first of two related posts on the state of the 2012 Republican presidential contest. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow morning.

The leaders of the Republican Party and the national news media have decided that Mitt Romney is going to be the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2012.

For example, national news outlets barely waved at Rick Santorum’s big win on Saturday in the Louisiana primary. The New York Times story included this as the second sentence: “The win gave Mr. Santorum a much-needed psychological boost but it will be unlikely to change the dynamics of the race.” And Politico led its coverage with this: “Rick Santorum picked up another win on Saturday in Louisiana, but the victory won’t significantly change the delegate advantage held by Mitt Romney in the GOP nominating contest.”

On Sunday morning, Republican establishment types left no doubt. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told CNN, “I think the primary is over. Romney will be the nominee. The fat lady hasn’t sung yet. But she’s warming up.” And former Mississippi governor and GOP insider Haley Barbour said on NBC, “Unless Romney steps on a land mine, it looks like he will be the nominee.”

Romney is certainly the most likely candidate to be the nominee, but I think it’s too early to make the call.

Many news outlets and the GOP leadership are ready to move on to the general election, but the party’s base of evangelical Protestants is not ready to do so. Romney has yet to win a state where the Republican electorate is more than 50% evangelical.

There are at least three serious land mines still out there for Romney.


Comments | Topics: bowling, Caucuses, delegates

March 20, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Robert DeNiro's racial "joke" at Barack Obama fundraiser stirs controversy

Robert DeNiro signing autographs at the world premiere of Killer Elite, Toronto Film Festival 2011

Robert DeNiro signing autographs at the world premiere of Killer Elite, Toronto Film Festival 2011 (Photo courtesy of Flickr member GabboT).

Illinois holds a noted place in American history when it comes to issues of race and ethnicity.

Abraham Lincoln represented the 7th district of Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives before he became the President that ended slavery.

Barack Obama represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate before he became the first African-American President.

So it seems almost fitting that today, the day of the Illinois primary, the issue of race is in the news.

At an Obama fundraiser last night, actor Robert DeNiro introduced First Lady Michelle Obama by asking the crowd: “Callista Gingrich. Karen Santorum. Ann Romney. Now do you really think our country is ready for a white first lady?” When someone in the crowd yelled, “No!” DeNiro responded, “Too soon, right?”

In response to DeNiro’s words, a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama said they were “inappropriate.”

Newt Gingrich, at a campaign stop on Tuesday, asked the Obama campaign for an apology and stated, “What DeNiro said last night was inexcusable and the president should apologize for him. It was at an Obama fundraiser, it is exactly wrong, it divides the country.”


Comments | Topics: Barack Obama, campaign oddities, Michelle Obama

March 17, 2012 at 6:26 AM

If Lehigh and Norfolk State can do it in the NCAA tournament, can Rick Santorum upend the Republican presidential contest?

For sports fans, this time of the year is known as March Madness. That’s the popular name ascribed to the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, in which small schools, serious underdogs, sometimes defeat bigger, far wealthier, steeped-in-tradition programs.

March Madness is the official name of the NCAA basketball tournament (logo by NCAA).

It happened four times yesterday.

Two teams that are #15 seeds (among the lowest in the tournament), Norfolk State and Lehigh, upset #2 seeds and hoop icons Missouri and Duke, respectively. In the history of the NCAA men’s tourney, only four #15 seeds had beaten #2 seeds. It happened twice yesterday.

Further, a #13 seed, Ohio University, upset one of the legendary sports programs in the nation, University of Michigan.  And a #12 seed, University of South Florida, knocked off a #5, Temple.

It was quite a day. Personally, I’m a huge Michigan fan — but I found myself caught up in rooting for the underdog Ohio U. Watching David knock off Goliath is something special.

There are favorites and underdogs in politics, too. And right now, the underdog has got a shot in the Republican Party presidential primary. It’s a long, long, long shot — but it’s still a chance. And when there is a chance, sometimes things happen. Like in 2008.


Comments | Topics: Alabama, Bill Clinton, Caucuses

March 15, 2012 at 5:45 AM

Republican primary fight hurting candidates, not good for any of us

The final four Republican Party presidential candidates (photo by Politico)

The Republican Party presidential contest descended into schoolyard name-calling this week.

It began when Newt Gingrich on Sunday blasted Mitt Romney as “probably the weakest Republican frontrunner since Leonard Wood in 1920” — a classic I’m-the-smartest-on-the-playground insult for which Gingrich has no political peer. Romney responded the next day with his best blue-blood neener-neener: he pointed to his greater than 3-to-1 lead in delegates over the Georgian, and said, “If I’m a weak frontrunner, what does that make Newt Gingrich?”

On Tuesday morning before primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, Romney blustered that his closest competitor, Rick Santorum, was at the “desperate end” of his campaign. Santorum won both primaries that evening, and Wednesday morning a Santorum adviser lobbed his best your-mama comeback. He invoked a Romney vacation in which the candidate did something unusual, and said the Santorum campaign wasn’t about to listen to the “value judgment of a guy who strapped his own dog on the top of a car and went hurling down the highway.”

A double-dog dare is next, I’m sure.

This is not helping the GOP. Or any else, for that matter.


Comments | Topics: Alabama, Barack Obama, Democrats

March 14, 2012 at 5:30 AM

Romney's problems with evangelicals doomed him in Alabama and Mississippi, will likely continue

Rick Santorum is Roman Catholic. This is not news: he is far from shy about his Catholicism. More generally, he is as outspoken about religious faith as any major presidential candidate who’s had success has ever been.

Santorum swept Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi last night. This is no small matter. Catholics don’t win GOP primaries often, and certainly not in the South, where evangelicals make up large percentages of the Republican electorate. Among yesterday’s voters, 74% in Alabama self-identified as evangelical, and 80% in Mississippi self-identified as evangelical.

I study religion and politics in America. I find it almost impossible to believe that Santorum would be winning Republican primaries in the South were his central rival for the nomination, Mitt Romney, not Mormon in religious faith.


Comments | Topics: advertising, Alabama, Caucuses

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