Texas Rep. Ron Paul apparently won his first ever Republican primary on Saturday, winning the popular vote in the U.S. Virgin Islands caucus, yet still losing most of the delegates because of the caucus’ complicated allotment system.
This is bittersweet for Ron Paul Nation.
The win finally gives the libertarian candidate a win, but also is irrelevant because Paul is banking his entire campaign on delegates. Also, don’t expect the Virgin Islands to provide any significant momentum to the Paul campaign.
According to some counts, Paul is now 1 for 135 in career primary or caucus wins.
Paul was able to win 29% of the vote in the Virgin Islands to Romney’s 26%. Out of 384 votes cast, Paul took 112, while Romney received 101.
The Paul campaign has lambasted the media for favoring Romney (i.e. through “Romney Wins Virgin Islands” headlines) and not giving the libertarian his fair share of coverage.
“The media is reporting that Mitt Romney won the U.S. Virgin Island Caucus when Ron Paul actually won the popular vote,” wrote the Paul presidential campaign in an email to supporters. “If the popular vote means you’ve won, then Ron Paul just won the U.S. Virgin Island Caucus. If collecting delegates equals victory, then Paul stands to do well there too.”
The Paul camp, as well as the campaign’s official blogger Jack Hunter, say the media is “trying to have it both ways.” Hunter argues that when Paul receives a significant number of delegates in a contest, it goes unreported. When Paul does “win” a contest, it also doesn’t make headlines.
The reason Romney did end up with more delegates — he took seven, compared to Paul’s one — is because after casting a ballot for a presidential candidate, voters in the Virgin Islands then select delegates to the national convention, Alex Newman of The New American explains.
Three delegates backing Romney and three Republican National Committee “member pledge” delegates were selected, for a total of six supporting Romney.
Only one delegate pledged to Paul succeeded in being selected. And one uncommitted delegate announced he would support Romney only after he was eventually chosen, Newman explains.
Throughout the 2012 presidential contest, Paul has been running a “Moneyball” strategy, banking on delegate math, not primary or caucus wins, to push him to victory. In state caucuses, Paul uses an extensive grassroots and ground game to garner local and regional state delegates. Even if he doesn’t win the state, these delegates pledge their support to Paul.
As of Sunday, Romney currently leads with 454 delegates and Santorum follows with 217. Gingrich is well behind with 107 delegates while Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) trails with 47. To secure the nomination, a candidate needs 1,144 delegates in total.
Still, some pundits hypothesize that as many delegates don’t have to immediately announce who they are supporting at the time of the state caucusing, Paul will have a substantially higher delegate count come the Republican convention in August.
“Although Dr. Paul received only one delegate, his team received up to three alternate delegate slots and will be well represented in our small delegation,” noted Virgin Islands GOP chairman Herb Schoenbohm in a statement after the unofficial results were posted online. In popular Ron Paul-supporter fashion, critics ripped this process in a comment section under the statement.
Media conspiracy or not, the Virgin Island win won’t help him in wider contests, especially Tuesday’s pivotal Southern contests.
Ron Paul is at single digits in most polls for Mississippi and Alabama.
"About all we know for sure about Tuesday's primaries is that Ron Paul will finish last in them," Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said in a statement.
The Paul campaign looks to be fizzling out, and has no real chance at making waves at the eventual GOP convention. The Virgin Islands will be the first and last win for Ron Paul.
Photo Credit: George E. Nokcus