Rand Paul's endorsement of his father is only one of a few official political endorsements said to guide the Kentucky electorate. The State's Republican party has yet to put their support behind a specific candidate along with most local politicians. The divide between moderate Republicans supporting Romney and more conservative voters wanting an alternative seems to exist in Kentucky as much as anywhere else. Two months ago, a group of top influential evangelical leaders met and decided to back Rick Santorum, hoping to give clear direction for the Romney alternate. And while it has helped the candidate keep his campaign alive and Romney on his toes, his support in Kentucky has yet to make itself roundly known.
So, with all of this indecision and speculation, could Kentucky actually make a difference with its primary result? As with most political questions: it all depends. As of this writing and according to the New York Times, Romney holds 421 delegates of the 1,144 that he will need to cinch the nomination from the Republican National Convention. Of the 1,530 left to win, he must win 723 of these, which comes to almost 47%. While it seems altogether probable for Romney to struggle on and win 47% of the delegates left to dedicate, particularly if the vote continues to split around Santorum and Gingrich, it is no certainty.
Santorum, holding the steady second place, requires 963 of the remaining primary delegates to win the nomination. If Gingrich were to step aside and promote him as the Romney alternative, Santorum would need to win 63% of those left. While a slight stretch to think that Gingrich will give in anytime soon, it is a definite possibility. Kentucky has 45 delegates up for grabs, 3% of those left. Should the field lessen and Santorum gain more momentum, that small percentage could mean a great deal. That said, Kentucky is not a winner-take-all state. Any split in the state's primary voting, which surely will happen, will also split the delegates proportionally. So, even if one candidate wins the majority of Kentucky's vote, other candidates could receive delegates.
Even if Santorum or Gingrich, if he receives a very unexpected boost, cannot win the requisite 1,144 delegates. If they gather enough influence along the campaign trail, they may be able to take the national discussion and make a case for themselves at the Republican National Convention at the end of August. There, asking the unbound delegates to stand for them.
Kentucky's primary will probably not turn the race on its head. However, with such an uncertain future concerning the next Republican presidential nominee, every vote counts. In the end, Kentucky's delegates could very well shape the end result of the long national search for the Republican nominee. As the old political saying goes: “It ain’t over till it’s over, and even then, it ain’t over.”
Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).
Image: Courtesy of Peter Allen Clark
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