Further, to the extent that John McCain and Romney both represent the Republican establishment, it is worth noting that McCain captured all of these islands in the 2008 primary and caucus battles. (Romney fared poorly, but by that point had already dropped out and endorsed McCain.)
Other data hints at a strong Romney performance in the islands. According to Brigham Young University's Global Mormonism Project, over 70,000 Mormons live in Samoa and American Samoa and another 55,000 in Hawaii. Romney has predictably dominated this particular demographic. At a luncheon with the former Massachusetts governor's son on Friday, Northern Marianas Governor Benigno R. Fitial endorsed Romney, who dialed in and apologized for his absence: "I am apologetic that I can't be with you today, but as you could imagine I'm running from place to place, trying to secure as many delegates as I can." According to the Saipan Tribune, Romney's son Matt also said: "It is important for us to get everywhere we can, everywhere that people vote. This is obviously one of the harder locations to get to but by far, it's one of my favorites so far." Other Republican leaders in the Marianas, such as Rep. Fred Deleon Guerrero, have announced for Romney.
A straw poll held by Republicans in Guam also favored Romney. Jerry Crisostomo, co-chair of the Guam GOP State Convention, explained that Romney won more than 50 of 62 votes cast because he is the candidate "most likely to beat Obama."
Rick Santorum is also making an attempt to win some of these islander delegates. He reached out to GOP leaders in Guam earlier this week for a conference call that lasted over an hour, but the response was mixed after he wound up using the call to apologize for his suggestion earlier this year that liberal judges be relegated to "Guam or something."
Frank Blas Jr., a Republican senator in the Guam legislature, said of the conference call: "Santorum's platform is about America's traditional family values and we asked, 'How does Guam fit into this family?'" The answer apparently wasn't clear.
Victories here would bolster Romney in a number of ways. First, successes stretching from Guam to Puerto Rico -- literally from sea to shining sea -- would emphasize Romney's ability to compete at the national level against the largely regional campaigns of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, who perform strongest in the South.
Second, while each territory offers up as few as nine delegates, taken together the bundle is quite meaningful. Romney is virtually guaranteed the nomination mathematically, but as his negatives rise, the sooner this is over, the better for him. The island caucuses won't make significant headlines, but any extra delegates will inch him closer to the magic number that forces his competitors to finally stand down.