Delaware primary held today
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 01:04
Delaware Republicans will hit the voting booths Tuesday and, despite recent visits to the state by his competition, polls, professors and pundits expect a resounding victory from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Seventeen delegates are up for grabs in Delaware, which is among five states holding Republican primaries Tuesday. Neighboring Pennsylvania, with 72 delegates, and New York, with 95 delegates, will also vote that day.
“I like Romney and I think he’s going to win,” said sophomore Josh Hoveln, president of the university’s College Republicans. “All the polls show him up everywhere by significant numbers.”
Romney has captured approximately 685 delegates so far this primary season. He leads former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who has 141 candidates, in the race to the 1,144 delegates needed to secure the party’s presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in August.
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who has 273 delegates, suspended his campaign earlier this month and Texas Rep. Ron Paul trails the pack with 72 delegates. A portion of Santorum’s delegates are tied to the former senator, but those coming from states with nonbinding contests like Iowa and Colorado are free to switch their allegiance at the convention.
While Romney visited Wilmington on April 10, Gingrich spent time on campus on Thursday and has routinely visited the First State since late March. Gingrich has looked toward Delaware to turn the tide in his presidential nomination campaign, but political science professor Joseph Pika sees his efforts as futile.
He noted Tea Party candidate Christine O’Donnell’s unexpected victory over ninth-term Sen. Mike Castle in 2010, but does not expect any surprises on Tuesday.
Pika doubts Delaware will be one of the “last sacrificial lambs to put themselves in the way of the Romney nomination.”
“I do think the [state] party leadership realizes they may have more to lose than win by going against the national grain,” Pika said. “There’s very, very little to be gained at this point by opposing Romney.”
Despite acknowledging the recent attention Gingrich has given the state of Delaware, Pika believes it was a matter of too little, too late.
“Because Gingrich is the candidate that has spent the most time, made the most effort to win Republican votes [in Delaware], it’s not impossible that he will build some support,” he said. “But I think most Republicans have now accepted the fact that Romney is going to be the nominee.”
Senior Bill Humphrey, former president and current interim vice president of the university’s College Democrats, expressed similar thoughts about the Gingrich campaign’s fate in Tuesday’s election.
“He’s already fired most of his campaign staff, so he’s acknowledged that he’s not trying to win the nomination at this point,” Humphrey said. “He’s trying to get enough delegates to have an influence on the Republican platform in Tampa.”
The Republican National Convention will be held in Florida from Aug. 27 through Aug. 30.
Looking ahead to a potential showdown between President Barack Obama and Romney in November, Hoveln said he likes Romney’s odds. Hoveln cited unemployment statistics, the country’s economic performance and gasoline prices as fuel for a change in the White House.
“[Romney] needs to show everyone the numbers,” he said. “The numbers tell everything. Obama looks very weak against Romney when you show everyone the real numbers.”
Humphrey, who said he remains supportive of the president, cited other statistics in support of Obama. In 2011, small donors who gave less than $200 made up 60 percent of Obama’s raised funds. Romney, whose donations came in larger chunks, raised nine percent from donors under $200, he said.
“What we’ve seen from this fundraising data, from what the campaign has been doing behind the scenes, from the polling data, [is that] this president remains more popular with the American people than Gov. Romney,” Humphrey said.
A Gallup poll released Friday gave Romney a 48 percent to 43 percent edge over Obama in a hypothetical November matchup. One day earlier, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal released a similar poll in which Obama, with 49 percent, edged out Romney, who had 43 percent.
Pika expects that if Romney secures the Republican nomination, the former governor will alter his message while campaigning against Obama.
“It’s a delicate maneuver that every candidate faces,” he said. “If you’re a Democrat, you have to run to the left to get the nomination. If you’re a Republican, you have to run to the right to get the nomination, and then you have to move back toward the center. I think Romney has to do just that, just as every modern candidate has to do that.”