2012 California Republican Primary May Be a Kingmaker

Yahoo Contributor Network

Although traditionally a blue state, the June 5 California primary election may nevertheless be of extreme importance in the Republican race for the GOP nomination. The Washington Post goes so far as terming it "the most important state on the calendar." Why?

* With 172 delegates, California offers the biggest number of delegates to the chosen Republican Party candidate. The only other state also offering a high number of candidates is Texas, which is scheduled to award 155 delegates on May 29.

* The Green Papers show that California used to be a winner-take-all state, which would have translated into a strong boost for one candidate. This would particularly benefit the contender who is far behind the leader with respect to the count of delegates needed to reach the required 1,144 total.

* The year 2012 marks the first time that California transitions to a proportional delegate award system. ABC News highlighted that each of the 53 congressional districts is to award three delegates to the winner of that district; an additional 10 delegates go to the state's overall winner. Winning two, 10 or even 15 districts would net a GOP candidate the same number of delegates as winning one or two primaries in other states could award him.

* The California primary is a closed primary, which limits candidate selection to the members of the Republican Party.

* Candidates must actively woo all Republican California voters, particularly conservative special interest groups and demographics, to achieve a high delegate count. Since each congressional district has the power to bestow three delegates, the Golden State should prepare for furious campaigning by all candidates still in the running on June 5.

*There is only a 6 percent difference between poll numbers for Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, Poll Tracker shows. Polled respondents between Feb. 2 and Feb. 18 favored Romney with 31 percent over Santorum, who only received 25 percent. Ron Paul shows with 16 percent, while Newt Gingrich is fourth with 12 percent. If the gap between Romney and Santorum closes, California could indeed play kingmaker and decide the nomination based on the large number of awarded delegates.

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