Why the SEC primary could pitch a shutout for GOP establishment

Days until Iowa caucuses: 0

Days until SEC Primary: 29


Even though the SEC states award their delegates proportionally, establishment candidates are still likely to be shut out. Why? Because, despite the required proportional distribution of delegates, a candidate needs to get to 20 percent of the vote to earn any, and none of the establishment favorites are close to that in the polls. From the Atlantic magazine:

Georgia, a winners-take-most state with a 20 percent threshold, illustrates the formidable obstacles the establishment candidates face. A CBS News/YouGov poll conducted in mid-January shows the outsiders taking 76 percent of the vote while the four insiders combined take just 19 percent. Rubio leads the insiders with 13 percent, trailing Trump by 26 points. Only Trump, with 39 percent, and Cruz, with 29 percent, would qualify for delegates, splitting the state’s 76 delegates between them. So far, none of the establishment candidates are close to meeting Georgia’s 20 percent threshold.

The Georgia scenario will play out in six states holding primaries on March 1, otherwise known as the SEC Primary. These six states—Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas—will allocate 422 delegates by winners-take-most rules, and all are conservative states in which establishment candidates will likely struggle to meet the thresholds.


A deep look at Jeb Bush’s struggles in his original home state, where his campaign is helmed by his son, George P. Bush, the state’s land commissioner. (Fort Worth Star Telegram)


Gov. Greg Abbott says he will “wait and see” on a presidential endorsement. (Fort Worth Star Telegram)


Bernie Sanders backers in San Antonio bashed a Donald Trump piñata. (San Antonio Express News)


U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, has endorsed Hillary Clinton. (Houston Chronicle)


The Clinton campaign added a press staffer in Texas who was chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro. Castro’s twin brother, HUD secretary Julian Castro, is an oft-rumored VP pick for Clinton. (Texas Tribune)


Former Texas U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm, who ran for president in 1996, said he’s supporting Marco Rubio. (Texas Insider Report)


U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., one of the most conservative members of the body and an immigration hard-liner, can’t make up his mind between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. (Politico)


Marco Rubio’s Alabama leadership team is chaired by state Rep. Bill Ainsworth and former state GOP chairman Bill Armistead. A total of three state senators and 13 state representatives are on the list. (Alabama Political Reporter)


Among Tennessee’s Republican delegation in Washington, only U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has made a presidential endorsement. And he’s for Mike Huckabee. (The Tennessean)


Under pressure from Donald Trump and others, the Republican Party of Virginia abandoned plans for a “loyalty oath” to the GOP accompanying March 1 ballots. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)


Two state lawmakers have  endorsed Carly Fiorina. (ZPolitics)


Donald Trump has scheduled a rally for Wednesday in Little Rock. The strange timing between Iowa and New Hampshire raised speculation of an endorsement from former Gov. Mike Huckabee – who is expected to drop out after the caucuses, barring a miracle – but Huckabee ruled out any endorsement this week and said he did not have foreknowledge of the Trump event. (The Weekly Standard)


New poll by The Oklahoman: Republicans – Donald Trump 25 percent, Ted Cruz 21, Marco Rubio 9, Ben Carson 6. Democrats – Hillary Clinton 36, Bernie Sanders 25. (The Oklahoman)


U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe decamped to Iowa to stump for Marco Rubio. (The Oklahoman)

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.