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Snowflakes and Fingerprints: No Two Media GOP Delegate Counts Are Alike

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Each media outlet uses its own math to estimate the current delegate tally of the four remaining GOP candidates...and comes up with different numbers

ricksantorum02.jpgWith just eight Republican presidential contests completed through the first month of the primary season, only a small fraction of the total number of delegates have thus far been awarded.

In light of the fact that half of these contests have been caucuses (Iowa, Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado) from which delegates have not yet been doled out to the candidates, along with a non-binding primary (Missouri), it is difficult to get a grasp on how many delegates each of the four remaining Republican candidates have truly tallied from these statewide votes.

It does not help clarify matters when media outlets use different calculations and different assumptions in reporting on the current delegate count.

As a result, hardly any of the nation's leading news outlets are on the same page when reporting on the candidates' delegate tallies to date.

Smart Politics examined the delegate scorecards of eight prominent news outlets and, as of Thursday, February 9th, found no two counts were identical.

(Outlets under study were the Associated Press, CBS, CNN, FOX, The Hill, MSNBC, New York Times, and Real Clear Politics. Other major media, such as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Washington Times, use the Associated Press tabulation).

There was one almost universally shared commonality between the various delegate trackers - most outlets agree on the following rank ordering of the candidates: Romney at #1, Santorum at #2, Gingrich at #3, and Paul at #4.

The exception to this was CNN, which currently has Gingrich edging Santorum by a one-delegate margin of 35 to 34.

However, none of the eight outlets under analysis agree on Romney's current delegate tally.

The former Massachusetts governor - who placed first in the New Hampshire and Florida primaries and the Nevada caucuses - is reported to have a range of 112 delegates at the high end (Associated Press) to 84 delegates at the low end (MSNBC).

Falling somewhere in between these extremes are FOX (107), CNN (95), New York Times (94), CBS (92), The Hill (91), and Real Clear Politics (90).

The range of Rick Santorum's delegate count, however, is even more severe, eclipsing 70 at the Associated Press (72) and New York Times (71), but falling short of 15 at MSNBC (14).

CNN is the only other outlet tabulating Santorum's tally at less than 40 (34) with the remaining outlets settling on 44 (CBS, The Hill, Real Clear Politics) or 45 (FOX).

The spectrum for Gingrich's delegate count is much narrower, with CNN at 35, AP, FOX, and Real Clear Politics at 32, The Hill, MSNBC, and New York Times at 29, and CBS at 28.

Ron Paul, meanwhile, who is hoping to win the Maine caucuses on Saturday (which will bring even more uncertainty to the delegate count), comes in at 20 delegates at CNN, 13 at Real Clear Politics, 11 at MSNBC, nine at AP and FOX, and eight at CBS, The Hill, and the New York Times.

Paul and his campaign have repeatedly suggested that although he has not won the most votes in any caucus state thus far, his supporters are well-poised to game the system and end up with the most delegates from these states at the national convention stage.

Of course, whether Romney's advantage over the rest of the field is two dozen versus five dozen is not particularly material at this stage of the primary cycle when the big boost in free media publicity comes in actually winning states - whether or not an actual number of firm delegates gets added to a candidate's tally.

Just ask Rick Santorum, whose campaign coffers are $2+ million richer after winning zero official delegates after his three-state sweep on Tuesday.

Republican Presidential Delegate Scorecard by Media Outlet

News outlet
Romney
Santorum
Gingrich
Paul
Associated Press
112
72
32
9
CBS
92
44
28
8
CNN
95
34
35
20
FOX
107
45
32
9
The Hill
91
44
29
8
MSNBC
84
14
29
11
New York Times
94
71
29
8
Real Clear Politics
90
44
32
13
Note: The Associated Press, CBS, The Hill, and New York Times also credit Jon Huntsman with two delegates for his third place showing in the New Hampshire primary. Table compiled by Smart Politics.

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Remains of the Data

Plurality-Winning Governors Elected At Century-Long High Water Mark

The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

Political Crumbs

Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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