Debates and polls are not primary votes
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I would like to remind everyone reading this column that not one vote has been cast in the Republican presidential nominating contest! The debates are entertaining, the polls are intriguing. But neither of these elements substitutes or replaces the essential fact that voting has not begun.

How can anyone legitimately predict or even comment on the GOP presidential race when there is not one piece of actual empirical evidence to make a true and reasonable analysis? Allow me to make a sports parallel.

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Every fall, prior to the NCAA college basketball season, there are preseason polls. Division 1 teams are ranked from No. 1 to 25. No team has played a game in October or early November, but all the hoop fanatics pore over the rankings and engage in fantasy and speculation. Seasoned observers fully realize that this exercise is nothing more than ruminating.

Once the teams begin play, then theses rankings start to be taken seriously. Wins and losses are factored in and then the rankings truly mean something. The college basketball season consists of over 30 games; then there are postseason conference tournaments. By the time March Madness begins, there is a record to appraise and real results to judge.

What we seem to have now in the GOP presidential race is the elimination of candidates and candidacies without a shred of real results. Poll numbers and debate performances, I repeat, are not caucus or primary vote numbers. May I also have the nerve to mention the word "delegates"?

Delegates are the actual determiner and deciders of who gets the presidential nomination. Rick Santorum, the winner of the Iowa caucus four years ago, reminds everybody that two weeks before the caucus the polls showed him at 1 percent or 2 percent. Things happen; time changes fortunes. I guess what I am saying is that the remaining 16 Republican candidates (yes, that includes you, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore) should stay in there. At least stay in there until the voting actually begins.

One other point that is considered political heresy: Why should Iowa and New Hampshire determine or eliminate a candidate? These two states are unrepresentative of the changing American demographic. I don't expect a candidate to state this reality, but why can't they politely ignore those two states and continue in the game?

The candidates should display some backbone and confidence. I would like to hear a candidate proudly proclaim, "I'm in it all the way to the convention; let the delegates do their duty and determine my fate." These political conventions were not ordained to be coronations. They were to be conclaves that heard out the candidates and provided a forum to show their platforms and attributes. If there is more than one ballot, so much the better.

Democracy is messy and chaotic; that's a good thing. Nominations should not be decided in September or October or November or December of the preceding year. Nominations should not be determined after four early contests or after one Super Tuesday. No, the prize should go to the candidate who makes his or her case to the delegates and wins them over. The rallying cry should be for all of them, "See you in Cleveland."

Plotkin is a political analyst, a contributor to the BBC on American politics and a columnist for The Georgetowner.