Ron Paul claims to have nearly 200 national Delegates. How accurate is that claim? by George J. Dance
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
In a June mailing to supporters, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul claimed that: "Due to the smart planning of our campaign and the hard work and diligence of supporters like you, we stand to send nearly 200 bound delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This number shatters the predictions of the pundits and talking heads and shows the seriousness of our movement."
"What’s more," Paul added, "we will send several hundred additional supporters to Tampa who, while bound to [presumptive nominee Mitt] Romney, believe in our ideas of liberty, constitutional government, and a common-sense foreign policy. When it is all said and done, we will likely have as many as 500 supporters as delegates on the convention floor."(1)
Some ‘pundits and talking heads’ were incredulous. For instance, the New York Times remarked that Paul "is encouraging his supporters with delegate estimates that veer toward liberal." Declared the Times: "According to the Associated Press, Mr. Paul currently has 137 bound delegates, behind Newt Gingrich."(2)
The Austin American-Statesman, in its PolitiFact Texas column, rated Paul’s claim as "Mostly False." As proof, the paper also cited Associated Press (AP) and its 137-Delegates figure. "It could be, we suppose,’‘ said the writer, "that Paul picks up enough yet-to-be determined delegates to have nearly 200 delegates at the convention. However, it also seems unlikely Paul could have known as much for a certainty when he sent his message.... Paul had 137 delegates when he wrote supporters about shattering predictions. We rate his statement Mostly False."(1)
I have written previously about problems with the AP Delegate count. The most serious is that, in the caucus states (the very states where the Paul campaign is concentrating its efforts), AP's numbers have been based on mere assumption. AP has admitted as much, telling the American-Statesman that: "In five of six states with caucuses – Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Maine and Washington – the AP reached delegate counts by assuming each candidate would capture the share of delegates commensurate with how they fared on caucus day, even though actual mix of delegates would be determined later."(1)
So much, then for the AP’s numbers. But what numbers should be used instead? As I have been following Paul’s Delegate quest since the beginning – on my blog, GD's Political Animal, and in a Nolan Chart series called "Ron Paul’s Delegate Strategy" – I decided that it was time for me to organize my own data and do my own count. What follows is a first approximation. I would of course welcome updates and corrections. In fact, I would ask readers to circulate this article, if only so that errors can be more easily spotted and corrected.
To organize the sheer mass of data, I began by sorting it into 3 piles: Big wins (states where Paul won or came close), Small victories (other states where Paul won Delegates), and Bound for Tampa (states in which Paul won Delegates, but they are bound to other candidates).
Colorado - I reported early in May that a Paul/Santorum Unity Slate took 20 of Colorado’s 36 Delegates. On May 17, the website The Real 2012 Delegate Count gave a breakdown of that figure: 18 Delegates for Paul, 2 for Santorum.(3)
Iowa - As reported by CBS News on June 17, "Paul supporters walked away with 23 of 28" Delegates up for grabs at the Iowa state convention the previous weekend.(4)
Louisiana - At Louisiana's state convention June 2, the state GOP Chairman tried everything to stop Paul’s forces - including having the rules committee chairman-elect and convention chairman-elect arrested. In the end the delegates turned their backs on him, elected a new chairman and held their own convention, and elected 27 Delegates (out of 46) for Ron Paul.(5)
Maine -At the Maine state convention, Paul supporters made up a narrow majority, and elected 21 of the 24 Delegates up for grabs.(6)
Minnesota - At Minnesota's state convention on May 18-19, the RPR won 12 of 13 possible at-large Delegates. (The one non-Paul Delegate is Michelle Bachmann.) Combined with the 20 Delegates they previously won in Congressional District (CD) elections, Paul’s supporters now have 32 Delegates from the state.(7)
Alaska - At the Alaska state convention, Paul forces took over the state party, electing a new chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, and Treasurer; but apparently could not increase Paul’s Delegate share beyond the 6 already bound to him.(8)
Missouri - Although Paul delegates made up close to half the delegates to the Missouri convention in early June, they were shut out completely by a Romney-Santorum coalition.(9) Paul has to be content with the 4 Delegates previously won at the CD level.
North Dakota - Paul had beaten Romney in North Dakota's caucus vote in North Dakota, and his website had printed a claim that he "looks poised" to win a majority there.(10) However, "Romney still won 60% of the delegation at the state convention by a combination of lawyers, parliamentarians, the elimination of paper ballots and controlling the audio visuals."(11) Paul supporters won only 2 Delegates (apparently at CD conventions).
Washington - In Washington, too, Paul's website had carried a prediction of victory.(10) However, it was the same story as in Missouri: a "unity slate" of everyone but Paul's delegates combined at the state convention to take all of the at-large Delegates. Paul’s backers managed to elect only 5 Delegates, all in CD assemblies.(12)
Paul has also won small groups of Delegates in other states. Most were bound Delegates earned by his primary showings: 3 each in Hawaii, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Virgina; 4 in Rhode Island; 6 in North Carolina; and 18 in Texas.(13) In Pennsylvania, at least five Paul supporters were among the 59 unbound Delegates elected in that state’s June primary.(14) Paul has even won a Delegate in the Virgin Islands.(13)
Bound for Tampa
Additionally, numerous Paul supporters have elected as Delegates but are bound (for at least one ballot) to vote for other candidates.
Arkansas - In Arkansas, Paul supporters swept 2 CD conventions held June 10, in District 2 and District 4, electing 3 out of 3 Delegates in each.(15)
Massachusetts - On April 29, the Paul campaign reported that its candidates had won 16 of the 27 Delegate spots available at CD conventions in Massachusetts.(16) (There were later reports of the state party trying to nullify those results).
Michigan - Michigan was penalized for having an early primary, with only 2 Delegates chosen from each CD (although a third, "in waiting" Delegate was also elected). The RPR won both Delegates from 3 Districts, plus one in a fourth, for a total of at least 7.(17)
Nevada - The Nevada convention was a big win for Paul’s supporters, who took 22 of 28 Delegate seats up for grabs. However, Nevada Delegates are bound to vote as per the state's earlier caucus vote, meaning 20 votes for Romney on the first ballot, versus only 5 for Paul.(7)
New Mexico - At the New Mexico state convention, the RPR formed a "Conservative Unity" slate, to contest the 20-at large Delegate positions. Paul supporters, who made up 15 of the slate’s 20 candidates, elected 8 Delegates.(18)
Oklahoma - Paul's backers were officially shut out at the state convention, which narrowly approved an "official" slate of candidates. However, they picked up 9 Delegates at CD conventions, with a reported 10th being elected on the official slate.(19)
Virginia - Although Paul won 40% of the primary vote in, that entitled him to only 3 Delegates. Sure enough, 3 Paul supporters – including campaign manager John Tate – were on the "official slate" of 13 at-large Delegates approved at the state convention.(20) Besides that, though, "Ron Paul supporters won 17 of 33 national delegates selected" at the separate CD conventions.(8)
The Real 2012 Delegate Count website is also reporting the election of 18 more Paul supporters – 3 in Arizona, 4 more in Arkansas, 10 in Georgia, and 1 in Wyoming – which I have not been able to confirm.(4)
The Bottom Line
"Bound" Delegates are those obligated (by state laws or state party rules) to vote for a candidate (as distinct from "pledged" Delegates, those who have personally committed to a candidate). Technically speaking, Paul has nowhere near 200 "bound" Delegates; most of his delegates are actually unbound. However, I strongly suspect that what Paul (or his ghostwriter) really meant by "nearly 200 bound delegates" was "nearly 200 pledged delegates not bound to anyone else," either bound to him or unbound: Delegates "who can vote for Paul," as the Guardian explained the word for its readers.(21) (That is also how the New York Times uses the word above).
If the latter is what Paul meant, then his claim was not "Mostly False" but mostly true. My own count gives him 189 such Delegates. That is significantly higher than AP’s figure (currently 158). Ironically, though, in 4 states AP gives Paul more Delegates than I do: 8 from Nevada (vs. my 5), 7 from Alaska (vs. 6), 8 from North Dakota (vs. 2), and 1 from Ohio (vs. 0). That is a discrepancy of 11; add those 11 to my totals, and Paul has exactly 200 Delegates!(22)
I cannot see those numbers going down, barring a catastrophe of some sort – accordingly, I predict that Paul will get at least 200 first-ballot votes. Assuming, of course, that (unlike in 2008) he will be nominated. However, that looks like a likely assumption. A candidate has to be nominated by five states, and Paul has clear victories in four: Iowa, Louisiana, Maine and Minnesota. Three others – Colorado, Alaska, and Nevada – are possibilities; although in the last two most Delegates are bound to vote against Paul, nowhere does that binding say, or even imply, that they cannot nominate him.
As early as May, Fox News was reporting that Paul had qualified to be nominated at the convention.(23)
It is harder to verify the second half of Paul’s prediction, that he will have "several hundred additional supporters" (as many as 300) "bound to Romney". I was able to find only 100 or so such supporters. That doesn’t mean that those other 200 Paul-supporting but Romney-bound Delegates do not exist; only that, if they do, they are well whidden.
Why are they important? They all have to vote for Romney on the first ballot, anyway; and all signs are that Romney will win on that ballot. If that was not clear after the California primary, it will be true after that of Utah.
There is, indeed, a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit, filed by a group called "Lawyers for Ron Paul" on behalf of at least 143 Delegates, to have a federal judge rule on whether the state parties can bind national Delegates at all; its object, apparently, being to have all of them unbound.(24) However, the Paul campaign is not supporting that suit. Why, then, worry about supporters who are bound to vote for Romney?
The answer is that the presidential vote, while the most important one of the convention, is still only one vote. There will be a host of others, on everything from choosing committees to approving a platform to electing a running mate; and on all of those all of Ron Paul’s supporters (bound and unbound) will be able to vote with him. Should there actually be 500 of them present, then one can expect a wild time in Tampa.
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in this article are those of George J. Dance only and
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George J. Dance is solely responsible for the contents
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