Romney Takes Washington Ahead of a Big Election DayAnd a few weeks ago:
Mitt Romney won Saturday’s nonbinding caucuses in Washington State, handing him a symbolic victory in his quest for the Republican nomination as he heads into the critical Super Tuesday contests just three days away.
The vote was a nonbinding straw poll and has no bearing on the selection of the state’s 43 delegates. Of those, 40 are up for grabs, but they will not be picked until later.
Santorum Upsets G.O.P. Race With Three VictoriesI should note that I didn't catch it, but the overnight online headline for the Washington contest stressed the symbolic nature of the win.
His candidacy all but dismissed just days ago, Rick Santorum won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and a nonbinding primary in Missouri on Tuesday, an unexpected trifecta that raised fresh questions about Mitt Romney’s ability to corral conservative support.
[And then in the 23th paragraph]
The outcome of the races in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado on Tuesday highlighted the peculiarities of the Republican nominating contest as it turns into a state-by-state delegate fight. In Missouri, more than 200,000 voters cast ballots, yet no delegates were awarded. In Minnesota and Colorado, only a fraction of voters participated in the caucuses, but the contests were seen as more legitimate because delegates will be awarded this spring based on the voting.
What's going on here?
In case you're wondering, it's certainly not differences between the states. As Josh Putnam informs us, the straw vote/delegate relationship in Washington was basically identical to that of Colorado and Minnesota. Now, I'm slightly more willing to credit the straw vote with some relationship to delegate selection than Josh is, but there's no excuse at all for treating Washington as a symbolic vote and the other two as "real."
So why the difference? I have no idea. Perhaps the NYT started reading Josh Putnam sometime between February 7 and yesterday. All I can say is that it's certainly consistent with the theory that the press will favor interpretations that suggest a close, competitive nomination contest and reject interpretations which suggest it's all over. Whatever the reason, however, it's certainly striking, and in my view the Romney campaign has every reason to be quite upset at the Times today.