The Washington Post

The most important position in a Republican presidential campaign

The most important position in a Republican presidential campaign today is not the pollster, media consultant, I.T. guy or fundraiser: it is the delegate tracker. Often, this job is an after-thought, something handed to young lawyers who never get their moment because the primaries have a clear winner who receives the nomination by acclamation. Their function is usually a clerical, not a strategic, one.

That will not be the case this year on the Republican side. I admit, as a former media guy, that I never paid any attention to the details of how delegates are awarded and pledged. In the races I worked, it was never an issue. But consider this very handy delegate tracker. It is quite striking in that it clearly illustrates that the rules are designed to prolong the Republican race into June. One wonders if they were conceived by cable news networks and political Web sites that benefit from a drawn-out primary process rather than by party professionals who should understand the damage caused by it.

But here the Republicans are, and more likely than not will be, until California's winner take-all on June 5. Sure, Mitt Romney can still put together some decisive victories that make continued opposition to him very difficult for Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and maybe even Ron Paul. But look at the chart and consider this: Romney's big win in Michigan netted him fewer delegates than Santorum. Time to put the delegate counters in the captain's chair and let them hunt for every last one.


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