This has certainly been an interesting primary season. It's hard to believe that it's been 4 years since (then) Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were battling it out for the Democratic nomination. It literally came down to the wire with breath held at the convention until Ms. Clinton nobley put party over personal ambitions, and ceded the nomination to Mr. Obama. It was a textbook example of how a close primary should be run. The Republican primary was clearly decided long before their convention; only the veep slot was up in the air, and we all know how THAT worked out.
Compare that with 2012. The Republican primary is a disaster. The original field of candidates went through a dozen "debates" before the voting started, and we still have 4 left (it may end up being 3 soon - Newt Gingrich's campaign has dipped into the red
). With all the caucuses and votes, it seems
like Romney will be inevitable, but it's still hard to say what will happen. Despite all the states he's won, there are still a LOT of "unbound" delegates. What does that mean? It means the caucuses are "non-binding", and when those states hold their individual conventions, the delegates can support whomever they please. Refer to the chart at this link
... Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota, Maine, and the islands are all unbound, despite the results we all think we know. In addition, plenty of other states have delegates that have not yet been bound.
This of course, is Ron Paul's "secret" strategy - to use the force of his ground troops to suck up as many of those as he can. Of the 1087 delegates allocated per elections thus far, 206 are officially "unallocated". Tradition would suggest they will go to the candidates based on the election results. Were Ron Paul actually able to snag all of those, he would be in second place. If that's his plan to win, it is as much based in reality as most of his other ideas.
Regardless, with 20% remaining unallocated, and that trend continuing for the remainder of the season, the Republican convention will likely be a mess, with the Final Four (three?) stumbling in bruised and bleeding and fighting over the scraps like children on a playground fighting over who gets to go down the slide first. At that point, they will have to suddenly start liking each other once again, and face off against President Obama.
Speaking of whom - yes there actually are Democratic primaries
for president as well. Yes, there are contenders vying to unseat him. They have zero chance of doing so, mainly because the most states that any of them have gotten themselves onto the ballot is 5. The most successful has been Randall Terry (yes, THAT Randall Terry, the anti-abortion crusader who is as much of a Democrat as Fred Phelps). Terry was actually able to beat President Obama in 15 counties in Oklahoma, but wasn't able to win the state.
This is interesting, because for the last 2 years I've been hearing emo-progs, firebaggers, and the rest of the I-want-my-sparkle-pony lefties angrily proclaiming that "WE need to primary Obama", and get a REAL progressive on the ticket, or at least provide enough push to get the president to acknowledge and address the issues they have. How has that worked out for them?
In a word: FAIL.
I don't doubt their sincerity, nor their passion, but unless that translates into coordinated action, it's all fairly ineffectual. Talking in your own bubble, listening to your own echo chamber, but not actually taking steps to get a candidate on the ballot is known as "armchair activism", and is really only effective at getting petitions and letters into the hands of already elected officials. To get a person on a ballot requires boots on the ground, gathering signatures. It requires a structure to ensure that people are working effectively and that the paperwork that needs to be filed is handled properly (just ask Santorum and Gingrich, re: Virginia).
I tend to be a bit cynical when I hear people proclaim "WE need to do this", and "WE need to do that". I always wonder: who is this "we" you're referring to, and what are YOU doing to make it actually happen? Generally, practical action does not follow the words, and nothing actually happens.
As it stands now, President Obama will sail into the nomination with only the slightest of bumps in the road, provided by - of all people - Randall Terry the anti-abortionist (not some progressive darling). The Republicans will be fighting over unallocated delegates and making backroom arrangements to seal the deal. This should be a lesson for everyone on how (and how not) to run a party nomination process in the future.