The primary season kicks off in Iowa on January 3, about 5 weeks from the date of this writing. It ends on July 14 in Nebraska. That’s almost six and a half months of drama. You might look at it as an auto race with eight cars, with leaders Romney and Gingrich in the first two, with the others starting behind them. That’s because Romney and Gingrich lead the polls at the present time. But the primary season is much more complicated than that. There are primary elections or caucuses in 50 states, the islands of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas, and American Samoa, plus the District of Columbia. Each state or island sets it’s own rules, and there are many variations of how the entity’s delegates to the Republican National Convention are chosen.
A great deal can happen in the weeks before Iowa. There are two debates scheduled in December, and no one knows how many scandals may surface, or how many gaffes the candidates will commit. One or two candidates may step down before Iowa.
You can see the schedule at Republican Primary/Caucus schedule (subject to change, but mostly set in stone). If you examine it, you might pick out 5 portions: January, February, March 6 (Super Tuesday), the rest of March and April taken together, and the drawn-out May-June period. July 14 is as an afterthought. Let’s look at each in turn.
January is the kick-off month, with Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. The first 3 states have 28, 12, and 28 delegates, respectively. These elections assign delegates in proportion to the vote, If you go by the current Rasmussen polls (as of November 30), where Newt has 28%, Mitt 12% in Iowa, Newt 24%, Mitt 32% in New Hampshire, and Newt has 38%, Mitt 15% in South Carolina, you might get something like Newt 21 votes, Mitt 12 going into Florida. But, Florida’s primary will be held on January 31, and it is winner-take-all for 50 votes. Newt could jump to something like a 71-12 lead.
However, the polls don’t happen in a vacuum. There are no less than 6 nationally televised debates scheduled in January, in the states where the next primary is to be held. Republican debate schedule 2012. Those debates could elevate some candidates and drop others in the esteem of the voters. Candidates could drop out during the month, when they see how hopeless it is for them. Bachmann and Santorum, for example, have spent enormous effort in Iowa, and are likely to be very discouraged with a bad showing there.
Winning Iowa will bring prestige, much more important at that point than delegate votes. New Hampshire is next, with it’s paltry 12 votes. Romney leads, Newt is second. The others will be hoping to finish 3rd.
Then comes South Carolina, where Newt is favored at this point. If he wins Iowa, takes 2nd in New Hampshire, and wins South Carolina decisively, the voters of Florida are likely to favor him even more. He currently leads in Florida 41 to Mitt’s 17. Florida’s 50 winner-take-all votes will define the leader going into February. Of course, at that point Romney or someone else could be the leader.
There are 8 elections in February, assigning 219 votes, of which 59 votes are winner-take-all in two states, the others are proportional. If the election is likely to be a landslide, we could see that shaping up in February. Strangely, there is only one debate, set for February 22. During this month we are likely to be bombarded by candidate’s TV ads. We will also see a huge amount of negative commentary by the Democrats and network media.
Then, Super Tuesday, perhaps the most exciting day of the primary season. Leading up to it, there are debates set for March 1 and March 5. Just before Super Tuesday, there is a Saturday election on March 3, in Washington. It is winner-take-all and assigns 43 delegates, so it’s important. But there are 11 elections on Tuesday March 6, assigning 556 delegates. One candidate could have an insurmountable lead after that. But, the race could still be competitive.
The March through April period has only one additional debate, March 19. No more are currently scheduled. But, the primary season drags on, with 18 elections.
There are 12 elections scheduled for May through June, and the last on July 14. California’s 172 votes will be assigned winner-take-all on June 5.
The dates given above could be changed by state party officials in some cases, or by the state legislatures in others. But I’ve given the general plan.
Out of the 2288 delegates to the convention, 1145 are needed to nominate. This number could be attained by May 1.
Note that the Left is attempting to organize a massive, probably violent protest in Tampa, where the 2012 Republican Convention will be held the week of August 27. It could be modeled on the Occupy Movement, but seems to threaten more violence. Here’s a story on that: Protest expected It isn’t hard to find a website: Leftist Facebook page and the Black Panthers: Planned Black Panther violence. If I were governor, I might call out the Florida National Guard to maintain public order during that time.