Posted Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, at 3:03 PM
I'm going to be the jerk that points this out. Hold off on the "with tie in Iowa and win in New Hampshire, Romney set to take Republican nomination!" talk, already. Yes, all the fundamentals and the divisions among conservatives suggest that he will win this thing. But: 1) He didn't improve much on his Iowa results from 2008, 2) he was always expected to win New Hampshire, never trailing in a single poll, and 2) only 12 delegates have been won so far. Twelve out of 2,286.
Why so few? The Iowa caucuses, as jerks (sorry, again) keep pointing out, where not binding. Only New Hampshire's primary was binding, and the small state only supplies 12 delegates to the Tampa convention. On January 21, voters in South Carolina will divvy up only 25 delegates, the number halved from 2008 because the state jumped ahead of the party's schedule. On January 31, Florida will assign 50 delegates -- again, number halved as a penalty. So at the end of January, the period when everyone agrees that Romney will "lock up" the nomination, Republicans will have officially assigned 3.8 percent of their delegates. The last time a race ended after so few delegates were chosen was 2000, when Al Gore dispatched of Bill Bradley. And Mitt Romney is not an incumbent vice president.