Outcome Of Vt. Republican Primary Could Shift Delegate Count

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(Host) Vermont will hold its Republican Presidential primary next week. It’s part of the "Super Tuesday" elections – a time when 10 states will select delegates.

And, as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, for the first time in many years, the outcome of the Vermont primary could make a difference in the national race.

(Kinzel) Next Tuesday, Vermont has 17 delegates at stake. If one of the candidates receives at least 50 percent of the vote, they’ll win all the delegates.  But if no one gets a majority, the delegates will be allocated on a proportional basis.

Retired Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says the Vermont primary could mean more to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney than Ohio, which is one of the biggest Super Tuesday states.

Here’s why. If Romney wins at least 51 percent of the vote in Vermont, he’ll have a net gain of 17 delegates over his closest rival, Rick Santorum. But because Ohio uses proportional voting by Congressional districts, even if Romney wins that state, he’ll have a net gain of less than 10 delegates in Ohio.

(Davis) "So by putting some resources into Vermont, winning Vermont with more than 50 percent, Mitt Romney can actually come out of Vermont with a much bigger lead in the delegate count than he might come out of Ohio with."

(Kinzel) And Davis says every delegate now counts in this close GOP race.

(Davis) "In terms of the overall strategy of this campaign – where it’s really a fight for individuals delegates – that’s likely going to go to the last primaries which don’t end until June in California and New Jersey and Utah, that picking up a net gain of as many delegates as possible in as many states as possible is the essence of Mitt Romney’s strategy right now and Vermont certainly fits into that strategy.

(Kinzel) The Romney campaign is aware of the benefits of winning the Vermont primary with a majority of votes. That’s why they sent former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu to campaign here.

(Sununu) "Governor Romney asked me to come spend a little bit of time here because… the way this process is moving Vermont will play a very important role next Tuesday.

(Kinzel) Earlier this week, the Castleton Polling Institute released a poll with Romney leading Santorum by a margin of 34 to 27 percent but Sununu says the poll was taken before Romney’s victories in Michigan and Arizona.

(Sununu) "My message is I don’t pay attention to the polls. I pay attention to the election results because frankly at no time in any election history I’ve every been involved in have polls in the long run been less meaningful."

(Kinzel) To date, Romney is the only candidate who has opened a campaign office in Vermont.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier."

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