By Andy Jackson
While the big news in the US presidential race yesterday was Rick Santorum’s close victories in Alabama and Mississippi, Mitt Romney quietly completed the Pacific island territory caucus hat trick. Romney added a victory in American Samoa to wins a few days earlier in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Due to American Samoa’s non-partisan voting system, party caucuses there are especially small; about 70 Republicans met in a bar and grill to cast their votes and elect delegates to the Republican national convention in Tampa, Florida in August. Party chair Victor T. Tofaeono was confident that the American Samoan delegation would find itself on the winning side:
We’re excited and look forward to the national convention to cast our nine delegate votes for Gov. Mitt Romney, the next President of the United States.
Romney’s cause was no doubt added by the fact that his campaign was the only one to seriously compete on the islands. Matt Romney and his wife Laurie campaigned for his father ahead of each caucus, something that local party activists no doubt appreciated.
Romney’s wins in American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas gave him all of the 27 available delegates from those territories. Romney also won in the state of Hawaii, picking up 9 delegates to Santorum’s 5. Romney’s 36-to-5 delegate advantage in the Pacific islands more than offset Santorum’s 32-to-23 delegate margin in Alabama and Mississippi.
While residents of America’s Pacific islands have citizenship rights, the territories themselves do not have seats in Congress under the American constitution and thus do not have votes in the general election. However, both major parties allow the territories to send delegates to their conventions.