Quick GOP Primary Reminder: February is Going to Be Horrible

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 25 2012 11:41 AM

Quick GOP Primary Reminder: February is Going to Be Horrible

137665775
NAPLES, FL - JANUARY 24: Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich shows off the key to the city after it was presented to him during a campaign event on January 24, 2012 in Naples, Florida. Newt Gingrich campaigns for votes in Florida before the January 31st primary. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If no Republican candidate drops out after Florida, what happens? I'm glad you asked, because the answer is excruciating.

On February 4, Republicans will caucus and choose 28 delegates in Nevada. Four years ago, Romney had the caucuses pretty much to himself and to Ron Paul. This year, he'll have to face a much stronger Paul, a Santorum who's grasping for delegates wherever he can, and a Gingrich who has Sheldon Adelson stuffing $10,000 bills in his pocket.

Advertisement

After that... not much, actually. In the early weeks of February, Republicans in Maine, Minnesota, and Colorado will meet at precinct caucuses. The results are not binding -- like Iowa, they'll be stories of so-and-so's momentum, what's-his-name's total collapse. No more delegates are actually chosen until February 25, when Republicans in the Northern Marianas Islands convene and choose 6 of 9 delegates. Yes, that's right. The Northern Marianas Islands has three-fifths as many delegates as New Hampshire.

We leave the Pacific and come -- finally! -- to the February 28 primaries in Arizona and Michigan. Total number of delegates at stake: A pathetic 59. Arizona's 29 delegates will go to whoever gets the most votes there, no proportional representation. That rule screwed things up for Romney in 2008, when he lost to John McCain by only 12 points, but won zero delegates. Michigan divvies up its delegates proportionately, and by district. If Newt wins by one point in Arizona, he nets 29 delegates; if Mitt wins by one in Michigan, he might net four or five. After two months of primaries, Republicans will have assigned 7.9 percent of their delegates, with no candidate having more than 150 or so of the 1,144 they need.

When do we actually start assigning delegates? March 6, Super Tuesday, when Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia vote, and assign 374 of the suckers. That's how long this can last, at the very least.

Side note: You know what would have been useful for Romney? An early Utah primary, a winner-take-all state that he crushed in 2008. That year, Utah voted in February. This year? It's the very last primary, June 26. Call it "Huntsman's revenge."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

How Did the Royals Win Despite Bunting So Many Times? Bunting Is a Terrible Strategy.

Catacombs Where You Can Stroll Down Hallways Lined With Corpses

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 6:39 PM Spoiler Special: Transparent
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?