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Riding The Tiger

“I discovered that being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.” Harry S. Truman

Primary Season Concludes

Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes the stage with his wife Ann

cription March 6, 2012 - Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes the stage with his wife Ann to give his victory speech at his headquarters at the Westin at Copley Plaza on Super Tuesday. (Ryan Hutton/Boston University News Service)

Mitt Romney has won the Utah Republican presidential primary, the last contest of the primary season, gaining all 40 of the state’s delegates. Nebraska will hold a state convention in July, but Utah held the last presidential primary. Representative Ron Paul is the only other Republican presidential candidate in the running. However, he stopped campaigning to focus on winning delegates at state conventions.

In other notable races, the political winds changed directions bringing good news for most incumbents in Tuesday’s primaries. Despite predictions of his ouster, Representative Charlie Rangel (D-NY), who has served in the House 42 years, defeated four challengers in Tuesday’s primary after facing ethics allegations and while running in a largely redrawn district. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has served in the senate for six terms, also won against a Tea Party-backed opponent. In Colorado, Republican congressman Doug Lamborn defeated Robert Blaha, a wealthy, self-funded primary challenger.

In South Carolina, Governor Nikki Haley tested her political capital by endorsing local councilman Tom Rice, who won in the 7th congressional district race against former lieutenant governor Andre Bauer, a Haley foe.

Incumbent Representative John Sullivan (R-Oklahoma) lost to tea party-backed candidate Jim Bridenstine. Meanwhile the retirement of Representative Dan Boren, a moderate Democrat, has opened an opportunity for Republicans to pick up a seat in Oklahoma. Two of six Republicans who ran for the nomination – Markwayne Mullin and George Faught – will now compete in a run-off.

So long, Newt. Hello, General Election.

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich, photo by Gage Skidmore

Today, we bid adieu to Newt Gingrich, who officially announced he will end his campaign for the Republican Party presidential nomination. His campaign produced many memorable moments (check out this ABC video of Gingrich’s greatest hits), not least of which was his grandiose promise that by the end of his second term, “we will have the first permanent base on the moon, and it will be American.” Alas, after 354 days on the campaign trail and more than $4 million in debt, Gingrich only won two states (South Carolina and Georgia) out of the 38 states that have held Republican primaries/caucuses thus far. 

Friday Roundup

Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio, photo by Gage Skidmore

Each week in the Friday Roundup, Riding the Tiger takes a look at the major news stories of the week involving the presidential election of 2012.

This week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Arizona’s 2010 immigration law, S.B. 1070. Media reports suggested the Court, based on their questions, appeared to be rediscovering federalism and might be inclined to uphold a controversial part of the law. In a post for Riding the Tiger earlier this week, Anna O. Law provided historical context to the debate over who should control immigration policy, and conversations from the Miller Center's Presidential Recordings Program examined the historical relationship between immigration and the economy. 

Romney Sweeps the April 3 contests

Romney during last month's Super Tuesday contests

Romney on the campaign trail in March. Photo by Dana Hansen/ Boston University News Service.

With wins yesterday in Wisconsin, DC, and Maryland, Mitt Romney has moved one step closer to becoming the Republican presidential nominee. Rick Santorum mounted a significant effort in Wisconsin, where he lost by 5 percentage points. The final tally in Wisconsin gave Romney 43% of the vote compared to Santorum's 38%. In Maryland, amidst low voter turnout, Romney won 49% of the vote and Santorum won 29%. Romney won big in DC with 70% of the vote; second place went to Ron Paul with 12%. Santorum was not on the ballot in DC.

In his victory speech, Romney set his sights squarely on President Obama, whose re-election campaign recently launched ads targeting the former Massachusetts governor -- signaling a shift in rhetoric that anticipates the two-man race that is soon to come.

Santorum Wins Louisiana Primary

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum at the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C. on October 7, 2011. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Rick Santorum's definitive win in the Louisiana primary on Saturday shows that the race to become the republican candidate for president is not yet over. Santorum won 49% of the vote; Mitt Romney came in second with 27%; Newt Gingrich was third with 16%; and Ron Paul received 6%.

Though his win in the conservative Southern state was Santorum's best showing date, it does little to change the overall delegate count, in which he trails Romney by a signficant margin. It does give Santorum some momentum going into the next contests in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, which he must win to keep Romney from taking the nomination.

Following Win in Kansas, Santorum Takes March 13 Southern Primaries

Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum at a rally in New Hampshire.  Photo by Patrick Gensel.

In what is shaping up to be a two man race with no definitive end in sight, Rick Santorum won the GOP primaries in Mississippi and Alabama yesterday, while Mitt Romney claimed victories in the caucuses of Hawaii and American Samoa. Santorum won Alabama with 35% of the vote and Mississippi with 33%. Romney’s wins in the smaller contests of Hawaii and American Samoa were more definitive. He garnered 45% of the vote in Hawaii, and picked up all nine delegates in American Samoa.

Newt Gingrich barely edged out Romney to claim second place in the Deep South contests, giving his campaign a slight boost as the candidates hit the midway point in the presidential primary race.

Last weekend, Romney captured all 18 delegates at caucuses in two other U.S. possessions in the Pacific – Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Ron Paul took the U.S. Virgin Islands. The weekend’s main attraction, the Kansas Caucus, was won handily by Santorum (51%), who was trailed distantly by Romney (20%).

U.S. Territories and the Republican Contest

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Photo by Jason P. Heym

On Saturday, three of the five U.S. territories held their caucuses for the Republican nomination. Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands each began their caucus process on March 10, and will be followed by American Samoa on March 13, and Puerto Rico on March 18. Each of these territories will award 9 delegates, except for Puerto Rico which will award 23. And given the length and contested nature of the Republican nomination thus far, these relatively obscure contests are not being taken for granted.

Romney Ahead in Split Contests on Super Tuesday

The results of the Super Tuesday contests were a mixed bag, though former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney emerged the victor in seven of the eleven races. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum won three contests, including North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, while former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich captured the vote in his home state of Georgia.

In the much anticipated Ohio primary, Romney appears to have narrowly defeated Santorum by just one percentage point.

Click "Read More" for full Super Tuesday results.

Super Tuesday: Will Romney Make It or Break It?

Super Tuesday map, 2012

States holding March 6 Super Tuesday contests

Today's guest post is from Lara M. Brown, an assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and the author of "Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants."

Today, the contest either reopens or begins closing. With 422 pledged delegates at stake, Super Tuesday’s ten contests are an opportunity for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Should he amass, as Nate Silver forecasts, a majority of the day’s available delegates and come out on top in Ohio, he would again be headed towards winning the Republican nomination. Should he underperform in these races, talk of a brokered convention would again abound.

“Can’t Afford to Lose Tennessee”

President Johnson Talks with Frank Ahlgren

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With the Tennessee Republican primary set to take place tomorrow as part of Super Tuesday, Republican candidates have stepped up their efforts to woo voters in the state. The Commercial Appeal in Memphis reported that:

 

“The three leading Republican candidates ramped up their efforts in Tennessee last week with TV and radio ads, phone banks, direct mail, a swarm of surrogate campaigners -- Gov. Bill Haslam leading the way for Romney -- plus some personal campaigning.”

 

And in their Super Tuesday Preview, Politico pointed to Tennessee's importance:

 

"A Romney win in Tennessee would be second only to Ohio in symbolic importance. He was down 4 percentage points to Santorum in an ARG poll released over the weekend, but closing. Victory in Tennessee would demonstrate that the former Massachusetts governor can win in a culturally Southern state."

 

Listen to this telephone conversation (embedded above) from 1964 as President Lyndon Johnson declares that he “can’t afford to lose Tennessee.”

 

No Presidential Primary for Washington

Washington Republican Presidential Caucuses

The Washington caucus results by county were: Mitt Romney (orange), Ron Paul (yellow), and Rick Santorum (green).

On March 3, 2012, the Washington State Republican Party Caucus was held at precincts across the state with registered voters (although not necessarily Republicans—you do not have to be a registered Republican to participate in the caucus although you do sign a pledge that you consider yourself a Republican). Like most caucuses, this one involved participants gathering together to pick delegates pledged to a candidate to go on to the county convention (and then the state convention). The Republican Party also held a presidential straw poll which was won by Mitt Romney, but those results do not affect the caucus delegates in any way.

Romney Wins Arizona and Michigan Primaries

In the last two big primary contests before Super Tuesday, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney won handily in Arizona while edging out a narrow victory in Michigan.

Romney won 47% of the vote in Arizona; Santorum trailed with 27%.  The race in Michigan was especially tight, with tentative reports of Romney capturing 41% of the vote compared to Santorum's 38% . Both candidates spent a significant amount of time and money in the state in the lead up to the primary.

A win in Michigan was critical to Mitt Romney's campaign.  Romney was born and raised in Detroit, and a victory -- however small -- in the state helps to put a damper on Santorum's momentum following his sweep of the February 7 contests, as well as quiet some of the criticism from within the GOP that Romney is not a viable candidate.

Why was the Missouri Primary Called a “Beauty Contest”?

St. Louis Gateway Arch

Photo by Bev Sykes

On February 7, 2012, Missouri held a presidential primary for the Republican candidates, the same day that Colorado and Minnesota had their caucuses. Rick Santorum won all three contests, surprising many who expected a better showing from Romney.

Many in the media referred to the Missouri primary as a “beauty contest,” because the primary did not count as it was non-binding, which means that the delegates that Missouri will send to the Republican National Convention in August will not be affected by the way voters voted in February. The Missouri Republican Party will hold caucuses beginning on March 17, 2012, that will actually decide which candidates the delegates will support at the convention in August.

So why did Missouri hold a primary that didn’t matter?

Santorum Sweeps Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri in Feb. 7 Contests

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum won yesterday’s Colorado and Minnesota caucuses, as well as Missouri’s “beauty contest” primary, introducing an element of doubt into Mitt Romney’s status as frontrunner for the GOP nomination. Santorum is the only Republican contender with four notches in his belt, having previously won the much maligned Iowa caucus.

Santorum won with 55% of the vote in Missouri, 40% in Colorado, and 45% in Minnesota. Romney came in second in Missouri and Colorado, but Ron Paul claimed that position in the Minnesota contest.

Florida Primary Goes to Romney

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney regained momentum with a critical win in yesterday’s Florida primary. Romney received 46% of the vote, a double digit lead ahead of Newt Gingrich’s 32%. Rick Santorum came in third with 13%, followed by Ron Paul with 7%.

Florida’s primary is the most significant of the nominating contests so far in terms of numbers, with 50 delegates up for grabs. 

Romney’s defeat in Florida during the 2008 election cycle effectively ended his bid to become the Republican Party nominee.