Arkansas will hold its Republican primary on Tuesday, where 36 delegates will be up for grabs.
The obvious winner of the popular vote will be Mitt Romney, though Texas libertarian Congressman Ron Paul is still on the ballot.
So far, Romney has not won enough delegates to claim the Republican candidacy, but he is close to winning the needed 1,144 delegates.
But Ron Paul may be a dark horse in this race. Ron Paul has announced that he has quit actively spending and campaigning, though, he has not formally dropped out of the race. Using his “It’s the Delegates, Dummy” campaign system, Ron Paul has still managed to influence a number of local, state, and national elections while racking up more delegates himself.
On the Democratic side, it also looks like Barack Obama has some problems of his own. Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe is challenging Obama on the ballot ... and the latest polls show he's only a few points behind the incumbent president. What does this small story about Democrats in Arkansas mean for Obama on a wider national level?
Some general plot lines in Arkansas:
- Can Romney drum up enthusiasm in the South?
- Will Ron Paul Be a Factor ?
- How will John Wolfe impact the Democratic primary?
UPDATE: 11:32 PM With 71% reporting, Obama has been declared the winner. But here's what's striking: Obama 58.7% of the vote, to Wolfe's 41%.
Obama faced a similar rebellion among Demcrats in tonight's other primary -- in Kentucky.
From PolicyMic Pundit Derek Miles: Overall, it was an uneventful Kentucky GOP Primary, with only about 10% of registered voters showing up to the polls to give Mitt Romney his victory on Tuesday night.
Romney won easily with approximately 67% of the votes, with Ron Paul coming in a distant second with 12%, followed by Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich with 9% and 6%, respectively. Accordingly, Romney collected the state’s 42 delegates to add to his now seemingly symbolic running tally. Just as unsurprising was Ron Paul’s second place finish in the state. Paul has consistently been a popular figure in the state since his son, Rand, was elected by Kentuckians to the Senate in 2010.
The results came after little-to-no campaigning was done in the state, and no ads for the candidates were shown on local television. With such a small turnout of voters for the extremely late primary, and with Mitt Romney all but officially secured the Republican nomination, the majority of those who did decide to vote today likely fell in line with their party’s presumptive nominee. Kentucky is a closed primary state.
Perhaps the most surprising result of the evening came in regards to the Democratic primary race on which President Barack Obama was the only candidate. However, Democratic voters also had the option of choosing an “uncommitted” box. This option received an alarming 42% of the Democratic vote, with the president receiving 58%. The figure of registered Democrats who remained “uncommitted” unquestionably serves as a statement on behalf of many of Kentucky’s Democrats who have not been happy with many of the president’s policy initiatives.
And while Republicans have long been forecasted to win Kentucky’s electoral votes in the November general election (Bill Clinton in 1996 was the last Democratic presidential nominee to win Kentucky), the 42% of uncommitted registered Democrats likely serves as a blow to any hopes of Democrats pulling off an upset in the state. Also, this figure could very well affect the six congressional races occurring in the state this fall.
11:06 PM 61% reporting and Wolfe inching closer: Obama 58%, Wolfe 51%
10:56 PM 59% reporting now: Obama 59.5% (61,801 votes), Wolfe 40.5% (42,010 votes).
10:33 PM 40% reporting: Obama 58.9% (47,369), Wolfe 41.1% (33,005 votes).
10:23 PM 31% reporting: Obama 58.6% (40,371 votes), Wolfe 41.4% (28,507 votes).
10:00 PM Gap now closing: 14% reporting: Obama 58.7% (28,063 votes), Wolfe 41.3% (19,707 votes)
9:48 PM 7% reporting: Wolfe 37.4% (14,144 votes), with Obama at 62.6% (23,636 votes).
9:37 PM Gap seems to once again be narrowing, slightly. Latest numbers (with 4% reporting) put Wolfe with 35.8% (11,923 votes) and Obama with 64.2% (21,380 votes).
9:22 PM Now 5 of 75 counties reporting, and Obama is extending his lead, 75.14% (12,061 votes) compared to Wolfe's 24.86% (3,991 votes).
9:15 PM 4 of 75 counties now reporting, and Obama opening up a lead after latest county results. Obama 76.51% (10,936) to Wolfe's 23.49% (3,358).
8:57 PM Now 3 of 75 counties reporting, Wolfe and Obama are very tight in their head-to-head race. Wolfe with 41% (2,093 votes) compared to Obama's 58% (2,979 votes).
8:50 PM Updated numbers here:
8:37 PM Results now coming in: 1 of 75 counties reporting. Wolfe has 917 votes, to Obama's 1,497. Wolfe with 37.99%.
8:20 PM Results scheduled to begin coming in shortly (in 10 mins). Stay tuned.
Tuesday 6:30 p.m. Army reservist Tom Cotton appears positioned to defeat Beth Anne Rankin, an aide to former-Gov. Mike Huckabee, it will be a victory for the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, a Cotton campaign backer and longtime Huckabee foe.
Tuesday 5 p.m. Who is John Wolfe? In an op-ed for PolicyMic, John Wolfe -- the Democratic challenger to Obama in Arkansas -- lays out his rationale for running in election 2012:
President Obama may have the Democratic nomination under wraps, but he cannot ignore the undercurrent of discontent in his own party.
I want him to hear it loud and clear. Dissatisfaction runs deep – not least of all in the South.
I won the vote in 3 districts in Louisiana, and had 12% of the vote across the state. 24% of Democrats voted against Obama statewide. The anti-Obama vote reached a peak of 43% in Oklahoma. Over 11% of Democrats nationwide are voting against Obama in contested races.
In Louisiana and throughout the South, one can hear echoes of the populist Louisiana politician Huey Long, who in 1934 coined the phrase “Every man a king.” His wealth distribution plan hit home for Americans who were losing their homes and struggling to put food on the table. Back then, as America was being plunged into the Great Depression, the income disparity between the richest 1% of Americans and the remaining 99% of us who share a smaller piece of the pie was almost a mirror image of what it is today.
I launched my underdog campaign not because I thought I could win against the political machine but because I refuse to stand idly by as this administration pursues the wrong priorities.
Tuesday 1:40 p.m. An Interview With John Wolfe: Arkansas Candidate Says He Could Crush Obama Nationally ... If Only He Had the Money
Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe — who is running against Barack Obama as a Democratic nominee for president in Tuesday’s Arkansas primaries — says he would be able to beat the incumbent president in primaries throughout the country, if only he had the money.
Wolfe provides an interesting twist in an otherwise mundane Tuesday primary: he could win a significant amount of the vote in Arkansas, where Obama remains deeply unpopular. Wolfe is running closely behind Obama in the race.
A poll taken in Arkansas' fourth congressional district shows less than half of Democratic voters (45%) support Obama. Thirty-eight percent said they back Wolfe and 17% are undecided.
The simple fact that Obama has steep competition from a fellow Democrat shows that there could be cracks in the president’s re-election campaign.
In an interview with PolicyMic, Wolfe said that he could be a force against the president.
“If I ran a similar campaign in big states like Pennsylvania or New York, I would do just as well,” Wolfe said. “I just don’t have the money.”
Wolfe is an Occupy Wall Street-inspired Southern Democrat. He believes in the free market system, but also argues that corporate interests have hijacked the political process in Washington.
His two major policy platforms revolve around ending “Obamacare” and removing moneyed interests from the political process.
Wolfe calls Obama a hypocrite: “Obama rallies against big business by day, but by night he takes their money. There are so many inconsistencies.”
On health care: “Obamacare gives the insurances companies a full monopoly. People have to deal with an insurance monopoly. This is not right. People need a choice. If health care was more selective, it would be a huge boon to small businesses.”
On Wall Street: “We also need to get banking under control. We need to make the banks loan more money. They have been speculating and making risky moves – which have cost billions of billions of dollars when they make a mistake. These same bankers are also influencing Obama right now. Banks have way too much clout in Washington.”
On Occupy Wall Street: “The 99% is not just a number – it represents an America that is losing. Losing their houses to the very same corporations we are paying to keep afloat.”
Wolfe also believes in extending low-interest student loans to help young people better manage their college tuition.
Wolfe is the outsider underdog that many people — especially conservatives — have hoped would take on Obama in 2012. But even if Wolfe makes significant inroads at the Arkansas primary, his victories won’t be recognized.
On Monday, the Arkansas Democratic Party announced that it would not award any delegates Wolfe, even if he wins a strong portion of the popular vote.
According to the Associated Press, Democratic Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said Wolfe had not complied with Arkansas' delegate selection rules and had not turned in two mandatory documents needed in the application process. Martin also added that the Democratic national party has told the Arkansas state party that any delegates Wolfe might claim won't be recognized at the national convention.
In a PolicyMic story comment, Wolfe argued against this point: “I filled out 4 sets of forms. I wrote out a check for $2500 to be paid to the Arkansas Democratic Party. They cashed it. Nothing was said that day about deadlines missed or forms missing. It gets better, stay tuned for more.”
Obama remains deeply unpopular in the South. Many pundits think Obama has next to zero chance of winning the state in the general election in November. In 2008, Obama lost Arkansas by 20 points to John McCain.
Wolfe also was on the ballot in the Louisiana primary, where he won three parishes and had 12% of the vote across the state.
Even if he isn’t recognized for his Arkansas performance, Wolfe still says he will try and make a difference in election 2012.
“I want to get my point out there,” Wolfe said. “I want to go to (the Democratic National Convention in) Charlotte and present these ideas. I want to get things done.”
Monday 6:15 p.m. Ron Paul Supporters Plan “Stealth” Arkansas Campaign: Earlier this month, Ron Paul supporters advocated a Southern campaign against Mitt Romney. Using the “It’s the Delegates, Dummy” model, RP supporters have already looked to insert themselves at a grassroots level to influence wider national politics.
They claimed: “If we take Arkansas we cut Romney off at the Mississippi and we win every state from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada!”
Of course this is highly unlikely, Mitt Romney will be the eventual winner in Arkansas.
Will Ron Paul Force Mitt Romney Into a Debate ... in Arkansas?
From PolicyMic pundit Allan Stevo: After Ron Paul spoke in Sparks, Nevada, earlier this month, observers took note of Mitt Romney supporters crumpling up their Romney signs and vowing to vote for Paul. It was the first time many Republican activists had ever heard Paul speak outside of the several minutes of sound bites allotted to him during televised debates.
The Paul campaign's recent announcement that he has doubled down on its delegate strategy has made it increasingly likely that Ron Paul will appear at an increased number of state conventions this year. Republican state conventions, such as Minnesota's this past weekend, are increasingly making their way onto Paul's busy speaking schedule.
As an example, this weekend Paul spoke to an estimated 2,000 Republicans at the Minnesota Republican Convention in St. Cloud. Later in the convention, Republican National Committeeman Jeff Johnson spoke words of unity and praise, perhaps indicative of Paul's ability to win the hearts and minds of the Republican Party. Recent analysis has even shown that Paul has seen his base double.
In Sparks, Paul spoke opposite Josh Romney, the son of Mitt Romney. Many a political strategist will point out, however, that a surrogate is never as effective as having the candidate himself speak. By not attending state conventions, Romney cedes ground to Paul. He also saves face. It's unlikely that the moderate Romney will fare well at a convention next to the conservative Paul. Last week in Arizona, reports indicated that Republican activists went so far as to refer to Romney as "Obama-lite."
With growing discontent for the moderate Romney in the Republican Party and Ron Paul surging, how much terrain can Romney risk losing to Paul? How long will it be before Romney joins Paul at state conventions, prompting impromptu debates?
Perhaps Paul's "It's the Delegates, Dummy" strategy of focusing on delegates and speaking at state conventions is deserving of more praise than most pundits realized. Paul may succeed at convincing Republican voters to force a head-to-head comparison alongside Mitt Romney.
Background: Voters will decide primary races in two of the state's four congressional districts.
In the 1st District, three Democrats are vying to take on freshman Congressman Rick Crawford, the first Republican elected to Congress from eastern Arkansas since the end of the Civil War.
Republicans and Democrats both have three-way primaries to decide in the 4th District, where Democratic incumbent Mike Ross has chosen not to seek re-election — walking away from one of the few Southern congressional seats held by a Democrat and the only one in Arkansas.
With no major statewide primary and a presidential contest that's effectively over, most of the focus in Tuesday's election will be on the state's only Democrat-held congressional district. Republicans say they believe they can win the 4th District following Democratic Rep. Mike Ross' decision to not seek a seventh term.