Saturday, March 17, 2012

Illinois: The Coming Battle

The next stop on the Republican Primary Express is Illinois--the Prairie State. While not make-or-break for Romney the same way Michigan was, Illinois is an important and somewhat interesting challenge. Let's take a look at why:

  1. City Mouse vs. Country Mouse: FIGHT! Nate Silver gives us the breakdown: Chicago is urban and upscale and more secular and, well, liberal. "Downstate" is more rural and religious. These are the dueling constituencies Romney and Santorum hold respectively. The game will be determined by turn-out: how well can each side rally their base? Romney is outspending Santorum 8:1--but he always does that.
  2. Santorum shouldn't be competitive here at all. Santorum didn't meet the ballot requirements. The issue is that the Dan Rutherford, the state Treasurer (and local Romney chairperson) wants to run again in 2014 and didn't want to piss off the Santorum voters so he removed the challenges. This gives Rick a shot at 69 delegates he ought not to (although one might expect the anti-porn crusader to reject that sum outright based on, erm ... numerology or something!). If Santorum comes anywhere close to a win Romney will be kicking himself--and Dan Rutherford. 
  3. Three days out, everyone puts Romney up--by about +5 points (RCP). At this point in the race, Santorum needs a game change--and isn't "going for it" (Nate Silver again with brilliant analysis). However, Santorum may have the backing of a secretive powerful ultra-right group called the Council for National Policy. This elite and rich private (very private) right-wing working group was called the Sith Lords of the Ultra Right by the DailyKos. Could they have something in mind? Do they have any wild-cards to play?
What Do I Think?
I think we'll see this play out the way it has so far: each party wins their demographic and Romney goes home looking like a weak winner. I don't think shadowy cabals of right-wing guys have much pull. After all ... Clinton? Obama? I mean, they've been around since the 80's. The fact that they don't have a web-site doesn't make them scarier--it just makes them look dated. 

Newt staying in, apparently helps Santo--the math is in and at least half his delegates go to Romney if he bails. That won't matter: as he becomes a non-issue those voters will go their on way anyway. In the mean time, maybe Santo can wrack up enough donor fatigue in Romney's supporters to damage him for the general. Wouldn't that be an argument at the convention: ROMNEY: Haven't You Spent Enough?

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