Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Santorum Spreads His Wins Around

By Carl
 
With three wins last night in state caucuses in Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri (technically a primary, altho the results are nonbinding,)  Rick Santorum vaulted rather impressively back into the pack for the Republican nomination for President.
 
See? The MSM isn't the only one who can treat this as a horse-race! But I digress...
 
There are two intriguing results out of these outcomes.
 
First, Missouri should have been solidly in Mitt Romney's column. That there might be a symbolic "Anybody But Mitt" protest in this nonbinding vote is true, and should not be underestimated. Republicans are pretty angry over the weak field of candidates poised to take on the now-formidable re-election effort of President Obama. Will Missouri overturn these results when they choose at convention in March?
 
I think so. I think the voters of Missouri were sending Romney a message to either amp up his volume or expect really tepid support come the fall.
 
Next, Minnesota. What should be considered a moderate state-- after all, this state has sent both Michele Bachmann AND Al Franken to Washington-- should have been a slam-dunk for Romney.
 
Caucuses are peculiar things, however. A small fraction of the actual voting population participates, and that leaves a much larger margin of error from "what should be." It comes down to commitment and enthusiasm, and as the Missouri results imply, there's very little enthusiasm for Mitt out there. The Minnesota Mitt contingent probably took a flier, assuming he'd get the nod anyway in Tampa.
 
So while it's shocking that a rock-ribbed socially conservative loon like Santorum took such a large plurality of the vote, that Romney couldn't even outdraw Ron Paul suggests that the NotMitt vote is very strong in middle America. Could be Mormonism. Could be Massachussetts. Could be misanthropy.
 
The signs were there that Santorum was going to pull a trifecta yesterday. Even the "esteemed" Wall Street Journal got it ass backwards in analyzing the sudden spate of advertising from Romney attacking Santorum, thinking it was just a champ putting the finishing touches on a wobbling opponent, when in truth, Romney was desperate to salvage any victory in any of the votes yesterday.
 
After all, if your rival is drowning, you don't throw him a life vest. That Romney even acknowledged Santorum's presence in the race was a red alert that things were going squirrely.
 
By winning two binding votes yesterday, Santorum makes a strong case to take this race to the convention. All three that he's won (which includes Iowa), and then Missouri, suggest a strong heartland preference for Santorum. At the very least, this puts him at the very top of any short list for Vice Presidential candidates.
 
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)

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