The Columns

W&L Mock Convention Picks Santorum in Minnesota, Romney in Colorado

— by on February 7th, 2012

Washington and Lee’s 2012 Mock Convention political team is picking Rick Santorum to edge Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s Minnesota caucuses and for Romney to win the Colorado caucuses. The student researchers did not make a pick for Missouri, which is non-binding and is generally regarded as a beauty contest.

The Mock Convention is only days away, with the first events scheduled for Thursday night and the final prediction of the 2012 Republican presidential nominee set for Saturday, Feb. 12.

The Minnesota prediction was prepared by Stockton Bullitt, the state chair and a senior from Darien, Conn., along with Zach Wilkes, a senior from Farmersville, La., and the Mock Convention’s political chair, and the rest of the political team.

“Candidate favorability ratings, second-choice preferences and an overall upward trajectory seem to indicate that Santorum will benefit the most from a large segment of late-breaking undecided voters, but, in such a small voting universe, voter turnout will trump all on caucus night,” wrote Bullitt, adding that the caucuses could have far-reading implications.

“Almost anything is possible in Minnesota, and, while we are predicting a Santorum win, we would not find a victory by Romney, (Newt) Gingrich or even (Ron) Paul to be all that surprising.”

In terms of the implications of a Santorum win, Wilkes suggested the biggest loser would be Gingrich “who desperately needs to establish himself as something other than a Southern regional candidate.”

In Colorado, on the other hand, Charles Martin, the Colorado state chair and a senior from St. Louis, writes of Romney’s predicted victory in that state’s caucuses that “his more moderate stance in this nominating cycle will prevent him from approaching 60 percent of the statewide vote as he did in 2008, he will still finish well ahead of the field. Romney will be buoyed by the strong organization left over from his 2008 campaign, endorsements from many of Colorado’s top Republicans and momentum stemming from his victory in Nevada.

In terms of the national implications from Colorado, Wilkes writes that Romney’s Colorado win “will create a buffer against potential losses in Minnesota and Missouri. If, as we expect, Santorum secures second in Colorado, and finishes strong in Missouri and Minnesota, he will once again emerge as a viable Romney alternative.”

The quadrennial Mock Convention, in which W&L students choose the nominee of the party out of power, will feature major speakers. It has been correct more than 75 percent of the time, with only two incorrect predictions since 1948.

The Mock Convention festivities begin on Thursday, Feb. 9, with a debate between top Democratic strategist James Carville and GOP pundit Ann Coulter, followed by a speech by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. A parade throughout downtown Lexington will be held on Friday, Feb. 10. The lineup of speakers includes former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, and former Oklahoma Rep. J.D. Watts, among others.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, Feb. 9

5 p.m. — Debate between Ann Coulter and James Carville, moderated by POLITICO’s Mike Allen and Wall Street Journal’s Kelly Evans

7 p.m. — Opening Address by Gov. Mike Huckabee

Friday, Feb. 10

10 a.m. — Parade through Lexington

1 p.m. — Session One, featuring speeches by Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Virginia GOP leaders Gov. Bob McDonnell, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor

7 p.m. — Session Two, featuring speeches by Gov. Jon Huntsman, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter,  Rep. J.C. Watts

Saturday, Feb. 11

10 a.m. — Session Three, featuring speeches by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Gov. George Allen, Sen. Fred Thompson and Attorney General Henry McMaster

3 p.m. — Session Four, featuring keynote address by Gov. Haley Barbour and the Roll Call of the States, with the final prediction of the nominee

CONTACTS:
Kali McFarland ’12
mcfarlandk12@mail.wlu.edu

(757) 404-1214

Katy Stewart ’13
stewartk13@mail.wlu.edu

(704) 560-2120

Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
jhanna@wlu.edu

(540) 458-8459