Watching the news or visiting a main street media website could lead you into thinking the delegate count they have posted is the real deal.  But in actuality, each is guessing as there is no official delegate count, at least not for many of the states that have already voted, Iowa among them.

The following are the delegate counts from some of the leading national media sites:

Romney Santorum Gingrich Paul
CNN1 106 37 35 27
CNN2 127 37 38 27
AP (WSJ, Fox) 123 72 32 19
CBS 111 44 30 15
RealClearPolitics 98 44 32 20
NPR 73 3 29 8
New York Times 105 71 29 18

*Note Fox news and the Wall Street Journal each cite the Associated Press delegate count.

Romney has anywhere from 73 to 127 delegates.  While Santorum is anywhere from a close second with 72 to dead last with 3.  One of the more interesting things I found when looking at different new agencies delegate count comes from CNN.com.  There you will find two different delegate counts, depending on what part of their website you visit.

Lets look a little closer at Iowa.  The AP, WSJ and Fox allocate the delegates as: Santorum 14, Romney 12, Gingrich and Paul with 0.  CBS and the New York Times each give Santorum 13, Romney 12, and again Gingrich and Paul get 0.  CNN most closely allocates Iowa’s delegates based on the actual percentages received during the caucus giving Santorum, Romney and Paul 7 each, leaving 2 for Gingrich.  Of the sources above, NPR is the most honest, not allocating any Iowa delegates to their count because Iowa’s delegate are unbound and undetermined.

Now all this fuzzy math may not be that big a deal at this time, when even the highest delegate count has Romney at around 10% of the required delegates, but it could prove to be very important when someone reaches the delegate threshold by a news agencies fuzzy math.  If a winner is prematurely declaired, based on presumed delegate allocation, it could greatly impact any state that has not yet voted.

Now the above delegate counts, estimates, and projections are all based on guesses and not based on rules.  One candidate whose campaign knows the real rules to the T and are attempting to take full advantage of them is Ron Paul.

For example, Iowa, Colorado, Minneosta, and Maine Caucuses as well as the Missouri Primary were all essentially non-binding straw polls.  Each state on their respective night took the first in many steps in voting for delegates to represent their state at the national convention.  According to the RNC rules, these delegates are not bound by their state’s preference polls.  The Paul campaign has organized and instructed supporters to remain at the caucuses after the initial preference voting occurs and attempt to be selected as delegates.  If his plan works, and he even picks up half of the available delegates in these unbound states, that would currently put him neck and neck with the leaders.  Many may call this shady, but he is playing by the rules.

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