The Fight Before the Storm

In the days before the RNC officially begins, an intense struggle between party factions is playing out behind the scenes, as the GOP mainstream defends itself from an insurgency led by constitutionalist hardliner Rep. Ron Paul. Inspired by the congressman’s 2008 candidacy, hardliners have captured state and local seats, and in the presidential race won 373 of the 2,286 delegates. The party mainstream, eager to use the brief opportunity provided by the convention to humanize Romney for the American public, is deploying both hardball and softball tactics to eliminate any distractions caused by factional infighting. For instance,

 They have found it politically convenient to adopt much of his message. Just last week, Romney pledged to support an audit of the Federal Reserve and the GOP is expected to adopt the audit as a plank in its platform along with a version of Campaign for Liberty’s Internet Freedom initiative. The party platform is also widely expected to call for a commission to investigate the gold standard.

On the other hand,
The RNC Credentials Committee ruled yesterday to overturn the delegate election results of Maine’s Republican Convention. In their decision, 20 elected members of Maine’s delegation were replaced with individuals chosen by the Republican National Committee.
While at the  same time, down the hall at the Convention’s Rules Committee, Mr. Romney’s campaign lawyer
Mr. Ginsburg made numerous proposals from raising thresholds to nominate a candidate from the floor to requiring binding of state delegates and even approval of state delegates by national presidential campaigns.
After which, the committee members fled the building to avoid any appeal!
“The rules say that you have an hour after the meeting, but within 15 minutes, we couldn’t find [Chairman Sununu] anywhere,” Ryan, a Ron Paul supporter and member of Maine’s delegation, said. “Finally, we asked an RNC official if they had seen former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu. He said, ‘John Sununu! Everyone’s looking for him! But he left the building.’”
Virginia delegate and RNC member Morton Blackwell strenuously objected to the proposed rule change, calling it “the most awful proposed amendments I’ve seen presented to this committee.”
“This is dangerous, it amounts to a power grab,” he said. “We are abandoning the historic process by which are rules are adopted.”
The Romney allies waited until Friday to propose the amendment, choosing to avoid giving the opposition time to organize by proposing it at the preliminary Rules meeting on Wednesday or during more than three years of RNC Rules Committee discussions.
Two significant rule changes got through the committee, and are up for vote by the delegates this week
Two changes stand out far beyond the rest and MUST be defeated on the floor of the convention if we do not want to see the grassroots shut out of the party for decades to come. First, the committee voted to allow the RNC to make rule changes between conventions, with little to no checks or balances. The original threshold proposed was 2/3 of the entire RNC. Melinda Fredericks of Texas got this changed to 3/4, but as Morton Blackwell of Virginia noted, in his many years on the RNC he has never seen a situation where the chairman did not get what he wanted on a vote, regardless of threshold. This article dicusses that change, and is accurate to what I observed in the committee meeting: Second, the committee voted to dramatically restrict who can be elected a delegate to the national convention. ALL STATES now are required to pledge ALL delegates, and all national delegates must be approved by the candidate they are pledged to.
And finally, the hurricane may be providing a pretense for keeping some of the more contentious delegates out of the proceedings, to enable a rubber stamp acceptance of Romney without debate, as well as these rule changes.
The GOP used a trivial hurricane to text RNC delegates that they won’t be meeting Monday, yet Fox says they will meet to get nominating Romney out of the way, and AP quotes Priebus as saying they will meet briefly and then adjurn until Wednesday (skipping both the day of Rand’s speech and the day of Ron’s tribute video, don’t know what will happen there.) So it seems as of last night our delegates didn’t know except from us reading the news that there WAS going to be a meeting Monday.


Louisiana GOP Primary Results Tracking

With at least an average of a 13 point lead over his opponents today in Louisiana, Rick Santorum is sitting pretty to take the state.  However, Mitt Romney is also floating above the magic 25% mark, which will deliver him a few delegates as well.  Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich on the other hand are facing another defeat and no additional delegates to show for it.

Keep track of the primary results here at Politico later this evening.

Santorum Still Leads Louisiana Despite Gaffe

Even after opening his mouth as wide as he could to insert his foot, Rick Santorum is still projected to take tomorrow’s Louisiana primary by at least 13 points when all is said and done.  Mitt Romney will easily secure second place and a few delegates, while Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul continue to be nothing more than present.

Full details here at FiveThirtyEight.

Illinois Turning Into Another Solid Showing for Romney

One day closer to the primary event in Illinois tomorrow, however updated polling shows challenger Mitt Romney running off with the lead yet again.  The difference between the two latest polls showed Romney with a 9 point lead advancing into a 15 point lead over night.  Though different polling organizations, the overall average of polls taken since June of this year, give Romney at least a 8.5 point lead over Santorum.  With Gingrich and Paul taking up the rear of the pack and trading blows for a potentially close last place position.  Either way, the crowd at the top appears to be getting more thin as each primary contest passes.

Check out the numbers for your self here at RealClearPolitics.

Showdown Slated for Illinois Primary

Many outlets are reporting that Illinois is the new battleground for candidates to stay in or get out and will be played out this coming Tuesday.  However, many polling outlets still show Mitt Romney as having the edge in this race by nearly eight points.  Though Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have had luck mobilizing their base quickly.  (However, it is unlikely Newt offers much in Illinois.)  If anything is still true at this point, Rick Santorum continues to only be injured by the presence of Newt and Ron in this race.

To see the full breakdown in advance of Illinois going to the polls, check out the details here at FiveThirtyEight.