Byron York

If those results trouble any Republicans, they shouldn't blame Romney. He's just playing by the party rules. And playing smart, sending Romney's son Matt to campaign in the Northern Marianas and in Guam just before the caucuses. The 18-0 delegate pickup in those two places alone eclipsed Romney's delegate margin of victory in Michigan and Ohio combined, where more than 2 million votes were cast.

Should the non-voting islands have such power?

"There really is no purpose to it," says David Norcross, former general counsel and chairman of the RNC rules committee. "There is no, in my mind, particularly compelling argument for it."

With the exception of American Samoa, people born in the islands are U.S. citizens. But the Constitution gives none of these non-states the right to choose a president. Their situation is comparable to that of the District of Columbia, whose residents could not vote for president before 1964. It took the 23rd Amendment to change that; no such amendments are in the offing for the island territories.

Delegates in the GOP presidential race, however, are controlled by the Republican National Committee. "The residents of the islands are U.S. citizens who are active and engaged members of the RNC," a committee spokesman says, "and part of the primary process that will produce the next president of the United States."

The RNC's statement doesn't explain why the policy is what it is, but of course there are political reasons. For example, there's no doubt the Puerto Rico primary was closely watched by Puerto Ricans in the United States -- in places like the I-4 corridor in the critical swing state of Florida, which Republicans need to win in November. Island delegates have also played key roles in electing RNC leadership; recent chairman Michael Steele owed his victory to island support.

But the presidency? It could be that by the end of this primary season, places like the Marianas and Samoa will be key factors in choosing the next resident of the White House.

(Byron York is chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner.)


Byron York

Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner