Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stupor Tuesday: The Boring 10-State Vote

Voters Slowly Realizing Santorum Believes Every Deranged Word That Comes Out Of His Mouth
WASHINGTON—As Rick Santorum has emerged to become Mitt Romney's leading opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, the American electorate said Monday it had slowly begun to realize that the former Pennsylvania senator sincerely believes every deranged word that exits his mouth.
That's The Onion--but here's what the real chart looks like:

 As we go in to Super Tuesday Santorum is losing his lead in the most important state: Ohio. From the article:
Experts say Santorum began struggling with his message shortly after winning a few caucus "beauty" contests in early February. Would-be supporters began looking away when he took jabs at contraception and called President Obama a snob for encouraging people to obtain a college education.
"Wishy-washy," said Terry DeGarmo, 58, a Chillicothe businessman. "The only person he can blame is himself. It is his own words that have made me rethink my support."
"His deeply conservative stances on seemingly settled social issues, such as his dislike for contraception, haven't been helpful, even in a Republican primary," Kondik said.
So, yeah: Maybe the Onion calls it? Romney is even winning Catholic votes in Ohio--as Hot Air says in the linked article "What Mormon problem?" As Republican voters enter the Elisabeth Kubler Ross stage of acceptance and Newt Gingrich plots a third comeback I think it's worth looking at two things: Was Santorum just another Not-Romney who never had a chance? And: What next if the real Romney clinches it?

Is Santorum Just Another Not-Romney?
While the nomination will not be over after this Super Tuesday (which, by historical standards, is a small one) it seems unlikely that there will be an upset of the sort necessary to unseat Romney. Santorum is looking like just another Not-Romney instead of the True Conservative Option. His decline is not confirmed yet--but a number of gaffes combined with, I would say, a sense that he might be a bit too far right for the base ... seems to be eating away at his once substantial leads.

The nasty turn the contraception conversation has taken probably doesn't help him either. Let's compare his InTrade graphs to a number of other Not-Romneys:

Here is Santorum's current decline (90 days).

It compares to Perry's most closely--Perry was also a strong favorite on his merits and managed to wreck himself with his mouth.

Compare these to the two off-the-cliff falls of Trump ... and Cain:

Ka-Thunk. On the other hand, if you look at the slope of Gingrich:
Maybe he does have a second chance? In any event, Santorum's fall is not quite as "directly into the ground" as most of his Not-Romney peers. This, to me, would indicate that he is more in the Perry-class of reasonable candidate rather than novelty-candidate.

 What Next? Romney Ties The Base To The Roof Of His Car?
Assuming that there is no big surprise I think the next step is pretty well established: Romney is ahead--far enough that there is no good chance for his opponents to stop him and that forces two big questions:

  1. Does Romney "run to the center"? Romney pretty much already occupies the center--but it's also unquestionable that his opponents have pushed him further right than he feels comfortable with. At some point he is going to have to start trying to lock up independent voters and that means (a) attacking Obama (which he will do with gusto) and (b) not scaring them. It's the latter that might drive a wedge with his base--especially if he decides he wants the Latino vote.
  2. Do Santorum and Gingrich 'Team Up'? And by 'Team Up' I mean one of them quits. Gingrich has said he'll drop out if he doesn't win Georgia--but that's not at all likely at this point. On the other hand, if neither has a surprise upset--especially if Romney wins Ohio--then together they look like sure losers. I can see Gingrich "dropping out" out-of-spite--but Santorum has stated he's dipping into his savings--which, while it is pleading poverty, doesn't sound like a guy ready to give up.
What  Do I Think?
I think, as the title implies, that this is a sadly boring Super Tuesday after the great drama we'd been treated to previously. Santorum was always a wild-card candidate since he was (a) utterly sincere and (b) at the same time all the less likely to win because of it he was interesting to watch. Romney, on the other hand, will be more like a chess computer: always making the logical move even if it dooms him to lose (which is in no way preordained--but we're not likely to see any surprise stunts coming out of the Romney camp).

So that's all disappointing.

I think the Santorum/Gingrich death-watch is the most dramatic thing to hold on to here so I'll be looking at that. And, of course, keeping an eye on Ron Paul who is never predictable!

No comments:

Post a Comment