2.05.2008

First state called: Huckabee wins West Virginia, stunning loss for Romney

West Virginia Republicans were holding a convention today with previously selected delegates to determine who would get the 18 delegates to be allocated winner-take-all. Going in, Mitt Romney was the huge favorite to win this state. He had the most organization and the most contact and he had devoted a lot of time lately to getting states like WV that are not holding primaries and where conservative activists are thus more powerful.

On the first ballot, Romney got 41%, Huckabee 33% and 16% for McCain. But 50% is needed for a winner to be determine -- and take all the delegates. And that's when John McCain jumped in, as his campaign instructed his delegates to go for Huckabee to prevent Romney from getting delegates here.

In yet another sign of how much Huckabee is preventing Romney from rallying conservatives and preventing McCain's nomination, the McCain delegates massively went for Huckabee and gave him a narrow victory (50 delegates out of more than a 1000). So Huckabee won the West Virginia convention -- and gets 18 delegates to take home.

This is truly terrible news for Mitt Romney. As I have explained before, Romney needs to keep the delegate count close in any way he can. And that means: (1) Winning Missouri, hopefully Georgia and (2) get a delegate advantage out of the caucus/convention states. Losing 18 delegates in a state his campaign was confident of winning is a very bad start. Given that McCain will get huge leads in the Northeast and in Arizona and Illinois, it is essential for Romney to get everything he can -- starting in West Virginia. If Romney fails to win California and Missouri, don't be that surprised if Huckabee is very close to him in the delegate count.

Update: As a commenter pointed out, Mike Huckabee also got help from Ron Paul and convinced him to give him his delegates. How? By promising Ron Paul three of his delegates. I'm unsure of whether Huckabee could have prevailed without Paul's help, but the result is thus: Huckabee 15 delegates, Paul 3.

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2 Comments:

  • From what I understand, Ron Paul was at 10% in the first round of polling, and Ron Paul's people made a deal with Huckabee that Ron Paul would get 3 of the 18 delegates in exchange for RP's people supporting Huckabee.

    So WV is 15 Huckabee, 3 Paul.

    Details/source here: http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/019172.html

    By Anonymous anon4rp, At 05 February, 2008 15:49  

  • It's an interesting situation.

    I could buy the Ron Paul option since 33% + 16% only = 49% and Huckabee had to get that extra vote from somewhere.

    It's a smart move for Huckabee who really needs a strong showing today to stay remotely relevant and for McCain, who doesn't want to cede mid-day momentum to Romney in California. (Of course, those viewing mid-day results are likely those who follow politics very closely and already had their minds made up.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 05 February, 2008 16:09  

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