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Romney's Numbers Underwhelm in Final Primary Contests

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Romney has carried just three out of 43 states this cycle with 70+ percent of the vote, compared to an average of more than 15 states by previous presumptive GOP nominees

mittromney11.jpgWhile Barack Obama has had his own troubles with protest votes on the Democratic side of the ticket in recent primaries (e.g. West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas), presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is also turning in less than convincing performances to assuage doubts that he has solidified the GOP base behind him, despite effectively wrapping up the party's nomination more than a month ago.

Romney again failed to reach the 70 percent mark in both primaries held on Tuesday - tallying 68.3 percent in Arkansas and barely getting two-thirds of the vote in Kentucky (66.8 percent).

With the nomination not in doubt for the former Massachusetts governor, the scale of his victories in the remaining contests may seem trivial at first blush.

However, when comparing Romney's primary resume against his predecessors, the collective level of support lingering for Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, and even Newt Gingrich in these waning primaries may be cause for concern.

A Smart Politics review of Republican primary election data finds that with just seven contests left, Mitt Romney has eclipsed the 70 percent mark in only three of 43 states, and is on pace for the fewest such blowout victories among any Republican nominee who wrapped up the nomination before the convention in the modern primary era.

In the 2012 cycle, Romney has only reached 70 percent of the vote in his home state of Massachusetts (72.2 percent) and the two primaries conducted last week in Oregon (72.1 percent) and Nebraska (70.9 percent).

The former governor was not able to sustain this momentum in the south on Tuesday, however, as nearly one-third of Kentucky and Arkansas voters still cast their ballots for ex-candidates or, in the case of 5.9 percent of Kentucky voters, "uncommitted."

Romney will add to his total, as he is likely to turn out big numbers on his behalf in the upcoming primaries in Utah, New Jersey, and perhaps California, but may still have difficulties with large swaths of protest voters in states like Texas and South Dakota and perhaps Montana and New Mexico.

The previous low water mark for an eventual Republican nominee who sealed the nomination prior to the convention was seven states at 70+ percent, tallied by Bob Dole in 1996.

Dole reached 70 percent of the vote in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

(Dole also would have added an eighth state with a runaway victory in his home state of Kansas, except its primary was cancelled with delegates chosen by the Republican State Committee instead).

John McCain, who lost many more states in the 2008 primary cycle (19) as Romney has in 2012 (12), nonetheless recorded several more blow-out victories.

McCain eclipsed 70 percent of the vote in 12 states: Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia.

George W. Bush, meanwhile, won 70+ percent of the vote in 20 states in 2000: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

Ronald Reagan reached 70 percent in 15 states in 1980 as did George H.W. Bush in 1988. Bush carried 23 states with 70+ percent in 1992 when he was challenged by Pat Buchanan.

The eventual Republican nominees in 1980, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2008 also won at least 80 percent of the vote in 43 states, or an average of 7.2 states per cycle.

Romney has yet to hit the 80 percent mark in any state, though will undoubtedly do so in Utah on June 26th, where he received 89.5 percent in 2008.

Romney's frontrunner woes started weeks ago when he failed to reach the 60 percent mark in Delaware and Pennsylvania - the first time a GOP frontrunner has failed to do so in a contest conducted after his last major challenger dropped out of the race.

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Remains of the Data

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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