The Campaign Spot

Examining Rudy Giuliani’s Strategy

Team Rudy has sent a strategy memo to campaign correspondents, making the case that they’re doing fine, and everything’s going according to plan.

They point that in Florida, they’re still up, averaging 30 percent, and their closest opponent is at 17 percent. They point to a similar dynamic in three other big, delegate-rich states, California (29 percent average, 15 percent for the closest rival) New Jersey (38 percent to 12 percent) and New York (40 percent to 12 percent).
Ah, but there are a few catches in that scenario. First, if Giuliani doesn’t win anything until Florida, will he still have that 13 percent lead? Or will one of the other big four be on a winning streak and be seeing a surge in the Sunshine State?
And California’s delegates are awarded by Congressional district. With a fourteen percent lead, Giuliani should walk away with a lot of them. But if a campaign made a concerted effort in those districts with not too many Republicans – Nancy Pelosi’s district, or Maxine Water’s — somebody like Ron Paul could walk away with more than a handful.According to this memo, Georgia and Illinois pick their delegates by congressional district as well. If I were Paul, I’d be running on my anti-war stand in the most Democratic districts I could find.
A key part of the Giuliani argument:

“For the record, only 78 delegates will be picked prior to Florida whereas 1,039 delegates will be picked on January 29 and February 5. Additionally, it is important to note that voting HAS ALREADY STARTED in Florida, Missouri, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey and New York – tens of thousands of people will have already cast their ballot by the time you are reading this note. And more February 5th states, including California will begin early and absentee voting soon. All of this points to the folly of over-estimating the impact of the results of Iowa and New Hampshire and the wisdom of our strategy.”

There is a certain logic there; the question is, have enough ballots been cast in those states to make a significant difference? Or are we talking about, two, three, four percent here on the margins?
They also note:

Because states selecting delegates before February 5th are in violation of Republican National Committee rules, those states have been penalized half of their normal delegates; Iowa, Nevada, and Maine do not select any delegates at their caucuses, but rather at state party conventions in late spring. The states before February 5th will allocate delegates to multiple candidates under varying state election laws and state party rules. Thus, it is highly unlikely that any single candidate will win all of any one state’s delegates except Florida’s, which will be winner-take-all. Florida accounts for more than 40% of all delegates allocated before February 5th and has almost twice as many delegates as the next largest state. It is therefore easy and correct to conclude that in a multiple candidate race, whichever candidate wins Florida, with their winner-take-all delegates, will very likely have a delegate lead going into February 5th.

Yes, but what are the odds that Iowa’s delegates will shift away from the caucus winner in significant proportions at their state convention? Is Team Rudy suggesting he can finish with, say, ten percent Thursday night, and later walk away with a much higher percentage of the delegates? Also, I figure the RNC’s “half-delegates” rule will spur an all-out fight if it ends up playing a role in who the nominee is. This will probably make Florida 2008 look like a tea party.
“Most importantly, a bloc of 201 winner-take-all delegates will be at stake in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware, all states in which Mayor Giuliani has double digit leads.”

Yup, I’m penciling those into Rudy’s column. But then again, just about everybody has from the beginning.

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