We began the summer with Mr. Romney as a weak front-runner and as we enter October, we again have Mr. Romney as a weak front-runner, but a lot have happened in between.
On July 1st, Mr. Romney had about 20% of the popular vote (a loss of about 4 to 5 point from a few months prior after a few other people had just left the race.) Mr. Romney was just shy of 650 delegates (29%.) Mrs. Palin and Mrs. Bachmann had about 12 % or so of the popular vote. Mrs. Bachmann had just came out of nowhere to cross the 350 mark in delegates, Mrs. Palin sat at just under 350. Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Perry had both cracked the 200 delegate mark with both having 9 or 10 % or the popular. Mr. Cain was not quite at the 200 delegate mark, but close.
Throughout July, August and September, Mr. Romney average popular vote probably never exceeded 20%, but it did not fall under 15% either. In fact, if we take out the extreme outliers at both ends, his range was really a narrow range of 3 points, while other candidate flocculated a little more wildly.
Mr. Perry cracked the 10% mark in terms of popular vote by August 1st, by the 3rd week of August he was within a few points of Mr. Romney and by the end of the month, he jumped to first place. Mr. Perry started September with almost 800 delegates and almost 25% of the popular vote. He spent most of the month close to 30% and came very close to sitting at 1000 delegates. By the end of the month, he slipped to beneath 950 delegates and was back down to close to 25% of the popular vote. He started October with less than 825 delegates. A few day later (after several more polls came out,) he slipped down to about 16 or 17 % or the popular vote and barely had 400 delegates.
Mr. Cain spent most of the summer in the mid to upper single digits and struggled to stay above 100 delegates. On October 1st, he started to threaten to go into double digits in the popular vote and came close to 200 delegates again. A few days later, he overtook Mr. Perry slightly for second place. Both were at about 15 to 16 % just prior to Mrs. Palin’s exit. In terms of delegates, both were over 400 delegates with Mr. Cain slightly ahead.
Mr. Giuliani has spent most of the summer close to or at 10% and he sat at just under 180 delegates prior to Mrs. Palin's exit.
Mrs. Palin started the summer with about 12% of the popular vote, by mid August she got close to the 10% line and by mid to late September, she fall into single digits. In terms of delegates, she started July just under 400, she fell under the 300 mark in August, she dipped down to just over 150 in September and she was at about 175 just before she exited the race.
Dr. Paul and Mr. Gingrich were both around the 7% mark popularity wise with a little over 100 delegates each. And everybody else had less than 100 delegates each.
While we have to wait until the dust settles to see the new political landscape, in the meantime the only thing we can do is divide Palin voters proportionately like undecided voters. With Mrs. Palin out of the picture, Mr. Romney cracks the 22% mark instead of just the 20 and he has almost 740 delegates instead of just 700. Mr. Cain jumps to 480 in part due to stealing former Palin Congressional districts. Mr. Perry goes to about 425 to 430. What is interesting is that Mr. Perry is down to just over 200 delegates in the south, slightly behind both Mr. Romney and Mr. Cain. His high in the South was over 500 delegates in early September so he is getting hit particularly hard in that region. Mr. Giuliani moves close to the 200 mark, but stays under. Dr. Paul and Mr. Gingrich move closer to the 150 mark by cracking the 5% mark in a few more states. Mrs. Bachman is still under 80 delegates.
While Mr. Romney is now in the lead, his popularity is more stable rather than sky-rocketing. At first, Mr. Perry seemed to be benefiting from the non-Romney vote, now it appears that Mr. Cain is. So the basic gravitation towards a Romney candidate and a non Romney candidate is still in play. Having a third of the delegates is not a bad thing at this point, but there also seems to be a bit of a desire to get behind another candidate. Mr. Romney’s advantage is that the non-Romneyites have not gathered around one candidate. With Mrs. Palin out of the race, how many Palinites will go to Mr. Romney and how will the non-Romney candidates fare? It will be interesting to see how these questions get answered. I suspect that most candidates will move to the right in order to appeal to the new batch of undecided voters. We have seen that a move of a few points or so one a candidate can cause the delegate count to shift wildly, so a lot can still happen in the next little while.
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