Super Tuesday Yields To Crossover Wednesday

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

It’s in the wee hours of Wednesday morning and I’m still trying to analyze what happened across the country on Super Tuesday.  Closer to home, however, will be what is usually the second busiest day at the Capitol.  Day 30, known as “crossover day” is the day a bill must pass either the House or Senate if it is to be considered by the other body this year.

A bill failing to pass one chamber by today is dead, though many will show up in the hectic final days as amendments attached to similar legislation.  Anyone who is fascinated by how the sausage of legislation is made should spend a crossover day at the Capitol.  Legislators and lobbyists alike are in full panic mode, desperate to ensure that their key bills survive the day.

In the confusion, there is usually some mischief.  Today is a good day to watch your wallets. On hectic days such as today and the final two days, bills seem to appear out of nowhere to be passed with little debate or advance warning.  Some “good corporate citizens” will be rewarded, and some well connected pockets will be lined.

It may be a coincidence that crossover day is the day after Super Tuesday – if you believe in political coincidences.  Those that pay attention to politics are not casting their eyes to Atlanta, but to a national map that is starting to fill in with delegates.

Last night was good for Mitt Romney, winning 6 of 10 states.  Two of those states, Virginia and Massachusetts, will likely yield all of their delegates to Romney.  The man who entered Super Tuesday with the most delegates left the night with an even larger lead.

It was better for Romney because it was also an acceptable night for Gingrich.  Newt did what he had to do, winning his home state.  He failed to come in higher than third place anywhere else, however.  Undeterred, Gingrich will contest Saturday’s Kansas race and next Tuesday’s Alabama and Mississippi primaries.

While Santorum can claim momentum as the newest and probably final “not-Mitt” candidate, he will continue to divide the evangelical vote with Gingrich for another week.  This is problematic because delegates in contests through the month of March are awarded proportionally.  Romney needs to only come in second in most contests to maintain a comfortable delegate lead going into April.

Santorum supporters wasted no time asking Newt to consider leaving the race.  Facebook posts began popping up as soon as it became clear that Gingrich failed to register in Tennessee, coming in third.  Gingrich has stated a Southern strategy but has thus far only won Georgia and South Carolina.  Texas, his winner take all holy grail, does not vote until the last week of May.

In the interim, most other southern states will vote this month, allowing a second place finisher to take away delegates.  Presuming Gingrich and Santorum continue to split social conservatives, it is likely that Romney will continue to amass delegates in the states that may otherwise go to Santorum or Gingrich in a winner talk all framework.

As the campaign moves to April, large non-southern states come into play. States that will be much more favorable to Romney become winner take all, and Romney will continue to amass delegates at a faster pace than his rivals.

Others can talk “momentum” in perpetuity, but the numerology of the primary layout is a distinct advantage for Mitt Romney.  While Gingrich proclaimed himself the tortoise of the race during his Georgia victory speech, it is Romney who is perfectly executing his slow and steady march to amassing delegates.

Gingrich’s longtime confidante Randy Evans released a strategy memo to Jim Galloway of the AJC, outlining his plan to win the nomination. Its cornerstone involves “persuasion” of GOP at-large delegates to vote for him rather than Romney who will presumably have a lead in the delegate count by the time everyone reaches Tampa.

The word “persuasion” will have ominous undertones for GOP leaders, and will likely have people close to Gingrich, quietly at first, begin to ask him how the person who is third in the current delegate count plans to persuade uncommitted delegates to choose him over the other two people in the race.

The easiest assumption is that it will be more negative ads from a superPAC funded by a Vegas billionaire.  The likelihood that Gingrich’s plan involves continued negative attacks against front runners will not sit well with a nervous GOP that already realizes they are at risk of losing what should be the easiest election they have faced since 1984.

The GOP contest will likely continue for another week with 3 potential nominees.  Barring a Gingrich sweep of Kansas, Alabama, and Mississippi, we will likely see the private concerns of those seeking a quick end to the process become public rebukes.  Gingrich won his “home” state and in some ways has been validated and vindicated for his role in the modern GOP.  Continuing a self-centered scorched earth campaign with little hope of achieving the nomination for much longer places all of this at risk.


  1. Three Jack says:

    Places all of what at risk? The GOP nominating a Massachusetts liberal to go head-to-head with a Chicago liberal in the fall?

    That said, Newt looked old and tired at the ‘victory celebration’ last night. Additionally he spends an inordinate amount of time talking about the past which is typical of a grandfather, not a political candidate in the midst of a serious campaign about the future. It plays well with his seasoned audience, but not much in it to generate excitement outside that group.

    Mitt wrapped up the nomination last night. Going forward, he and his team better figure out a way to attract younger voters to offset loses with women and hispanics.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “Mitt wrapped up the nomination last night. Going forward, he and his team better figure out a way to attract younger voters to offset loses with women and hispanics.”

      Romney doesn’t have to worry about attracting voters to offset supposed losses of women and hispanics as rising gas prices and a very shaky economy are very much likely to do it for him.

      Plus take into account that whomever the Republican nominee is, they will sweep the Plains’ states and the Southeast from North Carolina to Texas, with Florida being the biggest question mark for the GOP. Also take into account that Northern states that Obama won in 2008, like Ohio and Indiana, in particular, are likely to flip back into the Republican column in November.

      Though the events of the last few weeks appear to have had a devastating effect on the appeal of the Republican brand, this election will NOT be decided by the testimony of a certain Georgetown Law student or on the seeming downfall of a certain conservative talk show mega-host, but will be decided on the state of the economy, which as of now is still very volatile (very high and increasing gas prices, very high unemployment, a shockingly high amount of foreclosures).

      Democrats would be very foolhardy to think that this bump in the polls will last as there are still nearly eight months remaining until the General Election, a time in which anything can happen to change the political calculus.

      • I Miss the 90s says:

        Be careful about lumping NC into the GOP column. Gov Perdue has soiled the GOP brand in NC and such repercussions have often been felt in the Presidential races.

        Furthermore, more and more American voters are understanding that Presidents and Congress can do little, other than nationalizing the oil fields, to bring down gas prices. Americans know that Wall St is to blame for the price of crude…not the President.

        Oddly enough, this may be the first time conservatives wished the government did more…as it stands there is little to blame on President Obama (particularly considering the economy has done nothing but move upward for the past year and the GOP is blamed for most of the issues of the past 10 years, and the past year has not helped).

        It would be foolhardy to call a win in the D column. President Obama and his campaign are extremely smart and they are unlikely to take many risks before November, but markets and people are somewhat unpredictable (at least in the long term). Our markets are still under-regulated and could crash again, but that is unlikely. Obama is smart enough to not get caught in bed with anyone other than his wife.

        Unemployment rates are not that high, and what really matters is how unemployment rates change in the election year (so far +400k jobs). Foreclosure rates are not going to matter…after all the states with the highest foreclosure rates are red states and they are not handing their electoral college votes to a Democrat.

        • I Miss the 90s says:

          *I accidentally typed over a line that should have showed up after that first sentence. Gov Perdue has soiled the Dem brand name in NC as well. She played smart politics for a couple of years forcing the NC GOP to make unpopular decisions.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “Gov Perdue has soiled the Dem brand name in NC”

            My point exactly, which is a big part of the reason why NC will more than likely flip back to the (R) column in November.

            Though it should noted that the unique demographic make-up of the state that includes an exceptionally large and youthful population of college students and an extremely large number of transplants from Northern states in and around the principal metros of Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh (many NC locals like to joke that the Raleigh-Durham suburb of Cary, NC is an acronym for C.A.R.Y.-Containment Area for Relocated Yankees) make this anything but a guarantee for the Repubs.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “Foreclosure rates are not going to matter…after all the states with the highest foreclosure rates are red states and they are not handing their electoral college votes to a Democrat.”

          States with the highest foreclosure rates like California, Illinois and, especially “purple” states and swing/battleground states like Nevada, Michigan and Florida can’t quite be defined as red states as Arizona and Georgia are the only two truly “red” states out of the top eight states that lead the nation in foreclosures.

  2. saltycracker says:

    AJC headline: Conservative social issues rule Crossover Day.
    On the National front Santorum is all about conservative social issues (most that are state’s rights not the Feds).
    Newt is trying to come up with a super negative Romney phrase for Obama to use.

    Three Jack has put his finger on it. WTF is going on about the tax codes ? State & National.
    What about the layers of legislation intended to sort out winners and loosers and expand public service empires ?

    Term limits. Because as soon as the last change wave gets settled in, it’ll be business as usual.

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