Previewing the Kansas and Wyoming State Caucuses

Daniel Doherty

3/10/2012 9:00:00 AM - Daniel Doherty

After a strong showing on Super Tuesday – the biggest primary day of the year – Mitt Romney picked up some much-needed momentum, and for the time being has proven once again why he is the most electable Republican candidate. Indeed, after a down-to-the-wire election in delegate-rich Ohio, Team Romney narrowly defeated former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and picked up a sizeable majority of delegates in the Buckeye State. Overall, the former governor won six out of the ten state contests and garnered 36 percent of the requisite delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Despite his victories, however, his rivals are refusing to call it quits – hoping to revive their faltering candidacies by exceeding expectations in today’s caucuses.

On Saturday morning, Kansas voters will head to 96 separate locations to take part in the process of selecting a GOP nominee. As expected, the Sunflower State will host a closed primary this year, allowing only registered Republicans to participate. And unlike in Virginia, for example, the ballot will include names of presidential hopefuls who have already dropped out of the race.

Interestingly, even though Rick Santorum and Ron Paul spent time in the Sunflower State on Friday (Newt Gingrich decided to skip Kansas altogether), Mitt Romney seems to have a distinct advantage over his rivals after receiving the much-coveted endorsement of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole. Dole, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 1996, has been on the campaign trail urging his fellow Kansans to support Team Romney. On the other hand, Santorum is expected to do well among social conservatives and blue-collar workers, especially after winning nearby Oklahoma on Tuesday. That being said, polling in the state has been virtually nonexistent.  And so, given the volatility of the Republican primaries over the last several months, it’s nearly impossible to predict who will win.

Based on ballots cast, the vast majority of the Sunflower State’s 40 total delegates will be awarded proportionately.

 

Bradford said Kansas will not be a winner take all state in terms of how the delegates awarded. Three delegates will be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes statewide. Three delegates will be awarded to the candidate who wins in each of the state’s four congressional districts. Twenty-five delegates will be allocated proportionately based on the statewide vote totals.

 

Meanwhile, fresh off winning Wyoming’s presidential caucus vote last month (a three week series of straw polls conducted across the state), Mitt Romney is poised for yet another electoral victory. Although only 2,108 Republicans participated in these non-binding caucuses, the Equality State’s county conventions – which began on March 6 and will end this evening – indicate that Wyoming is Romney’s for the taking.

As of this writing, the former Massachusetts governor has garnered 54 percent of the vote with 30 percent of precincts reporting. Like Kansas, the Wyoming caucuses are only open to registered Republicans, and less than half of its 29 unbounded delegates will be allocated.

 

Although precinct caucuses in February included nonbinding straw polls, delegate allocation begins March 6 with county conventions that will select 12 of Wyoming's 29 delegates. Twelve of the state's 23 counties select a single delegate in this process, all of which are officially unbound but identified by presidential candidate preference. Another 17 at-large delegates, including the state's three R.N.C. members, are elected at the state party convention in April, and identified by candidate preference.

 

Regardless of how the caucus results turn out, I don’t expect any of the candidates to throw in the towel this weekend. If anything, tonight’s elections are about building momentum heading into the all-important Alabama and Mississippi contests on Tuesday. Still, a surprising win – or an unexpected loss – could add an interesting new dynamic to the campaign.

As always, be sure to check out the elections results page starting 3:00 PM. And stay tuned for my wrap-up post after the votes are tallied!