Rick Santorum (R) scored a decisive victory in Louisiana last Saturday (49% to 27% for Romney), but the race for delegates was hardly effected following the 34th of 56 contests. This near insurmountable delegate lead for Romney is clear in the table below where Santorum needs to win over 70% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination and both Newt Gingrich (R) and Ron Paul (R) need well over 80%.
Estimated GOP delegate count:
- U.S. Senate – Control for the Senate is highly competitive and a major determining factor that will decide this will be the quality of candidates. Over the next few months, key states in this battle (to name a few – Missouri, Michigan, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Florida, Nebraska, Indiana and Maine) will settle their primaries and thus shape the fall contests. Several states will fall (or rise) in the rankings of competitive states based on primary election outcomes.
- Health Care at SCOTUS – The U.S. Supreme Court hears the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act/“Obamacare” case this week. Will this case alter the outcome of elections in November? No matter the decision, how many people will, after two years of intense media coverage, finally come to their own decision on this issue and then decided that they will support or oppose the president as a result? I would expect a ton of media coverage, a ton of political ads, a ton of fundraising off of the decision, but very few people changing or making up their mind on which candidate(s) to vote for in November.
- Anti-incumbent year or not? – So far, incumbents are holding on, but clearly the mood of voters is that of someone who has their back against the wall and can quickly decide to toss out an incumbent who is perceived to be part of the “problem.”
- Turnover – The number of new faces going to Washington in the next Congress is going to be big…again. Of the 33 seats up in the U.S. Senate, 10 are open seats. In the U.S. House, there will be at least 53 new faces next January as a result of retirements, running for other offices and redistricting battles where two incumbents face each other. As we continue to move through candidate filings, primaries and eventually the General Election, these numbers will obviously rise and could easily reach 75 freshmen in the House.
- Movement of Independent voters – Independent-minded voters are always a big prize in any contested election. Will this critical voting group begin to settle on a candidate now that fall matchups are starting to take shape?
- Energy/gas price politics – No other price of a product in this country is as well known as the price of gas. None. Gas prices are visible on every other street corner and a change in price often leads to a rush of new media stories. How high (or low) will gas prices be late in the summer, what can/will the President/Congress do about them and how engaged will voters and the energy industry be leading up to the election. With the Vote4Energy campaign, the energy industry has clearly put its chips on the table.
- Manufacturing – This election is about jobs and that largely means manufacturing jobs. Follow the number of manufacturing jobs in key states like Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina to get a good snapshot of how well incumbents will do at the ballot box in competitive races.
- VP Choice – People are starting to ask, but I will save this one for a later article.
- April 3 – WI (42), MD (37) and DC (19)
- April 24 – NY (95), PA (72), CT (28), RI (19) and DE (17)