Skip to comments.Mitt Romney: At the Crossroads vs. A Narrowing of his comfort zone (the Santorum threat)
Posted on 03/16/2012 2:45:22 PM PDT by techno
If you go back to Feb. 2010 and read an article by David Bernstein in the Boston Phoenix called New and Improved Romney, you will in essence be provided with a road map of how we got to where we are, at least from Mitt Romney and Team Romney's point of view. Link:
In that piece Bernstein indicated 5 main priorities for Mitt Romney and his team in the run-up to the 2012 primary season:
a)De-emphasizing social issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and illegal immigration and emphasizing fiscal issues
b)Scrupulously avoiding association with the Tea Party movement or pandering to conservatives by appearing to be more conservative than you are
c)Skipping the South which holds 40% of the pledged delegates to the 2012 GOP convention and instead adopting a "blue-state strategy" by sweeping winner-take-all delegate primaries in the Northeast, the West Coast and the Industrial North.
d)Hope the primary schedule in 2012 is similar to the one in place in 2008. (As we all know the rules were changed and winner-take-all primaries were pushed back to the beginning of April for the most part).
e)Maintaining his national network of PAC's and having access to as much money as Romney needs to win the nomination
Objectively, if Mitt Romney loses this contest it will be as a result to a great degree based on two factors he had no or little control over; the Supreme Court decision to authorize Super PAC's to spend money on behalf of candidates outside of the candidate's own fundraising capability which has allowed shoestring campaigns like Santorum's and less-funded campaigns like Gingrich's to somewhat compete with Romney and the change in the primary calendar to backload it with winner-take-all primaries instead of keeping it frontloaded as it had always been. A proportional awarding of delegates consistently in the first three months of the primary season has NOT helped Romney to take full advantage of his fundraising and his immense organizational advantage over the other candidates. And that is one issue that doesn't get much play in the media. Yes, Romney by all estimates has earned as many delegates as the other three candidates combined but if more states were winner-take-all early on as in the past he could have won three times as many delegates now as Santorum instead over just over twice as many. As of today, Romney still needs an estimated 48% of the remaining delegates to reach the magic mark of 1144 delegates and to clinch the nomination.
As a result of this new format and political reality, through no fault of his own, Rick Santorum has been able to hang around a lot longer than most candidates of his ilk would have in the past. And because of that, there is now a potential for a dramatic shift to occur in the GOP primaries in the next couple of weeks. Here is why:
a)The social issues that Romney bent over backwards to avoid could be his bane or comeuppance, in that they could become Santorum's pathway to outflank Mitt among conservative voters. Yes conservative voters in the past couple of weeks have gravitated towards Romney because of his perceived electability, but recent polls such as today's Rasmussen poll of the 4 Core states show that Santorum is actually doing better against Obama here than Romney is and thus may become more receptive to Santorum's message on social conservative issues and as a consequence eventually abandon ship.
b)Polls have shown Tea Party members gradually moving over to Romney since the Michigan primary but could that support be softening as Santorum looks more electable or Romney appears less electable. What if Romney had made a bigger push in 2010 to bring TPM into his tent then?
c)And with Santorum doing so well in the midwest and industrial north, can Romney basically still run his blue-state strategy and still win the required 1144 delegates to clinch the nomination? For example polls now show Santorum up in both Pennsylvania, his home state, and in Wisconsin. Could Santorum also eat into Romney's support in neighboring New Jersey or New York state as well? By hanging around, and after winning Mississippi and Alabama on Tuesday, Santorum has the potential to pick up momentum. And of course if he were to pull the huge upset in Illinois this coming Tuesday, who knows?
But back to my original premise. I don't believe Mitt Romney is at the crossroads now. He still has a substantial lead in delegates over Rick Santorum and should win the race going away. It's simple math.
But on the other hand, as a result of Santorum's upset victories in MS and AL on Tuesday, I do think Romney's comfort zone has been narrowed, and that means he has less room for missteps, gaffes or unforced errors or lousy political strategy. He can't allow Santorum to get a head of steam and to take off like a jet rocket. That would in all likelihood unite conservatives around Santorum going forward and as we all know there are roughly 2 conservatives for every liberal/moderate who vote in the GOP primaries.
And here is the most stunning poll stat that I have seen for a long time:
Rasmussen poll of 4 Core states combined (OH, VA, NC, FLA):
Among unaffiliated (independent) voters Romney leads Obama in these states by 4 points (44% to 40%) while Santorum leads Obama by 22 points (56% to 34%). These are the kind of poll results that could strengthen the Santorum campaign immeasurably and undermine the Romney campaign to a great degree. But that's what you get when you allow an inferior opponent hang around. In sports, it happens all the time and teams live to regret it.
Good analysis techno. I enjoyed you over at C4P.
I find it ironic that the RINO GOP created these new rules to hinder a conservative who would normally take (all delegates) in states like Iowa and SC giving them the (unstoppable?) mojo heading into a much more conservative FL.
Instead it backfired.
as the saying goes, “oh what a tangled web he wove”, being SO SMART ya kow? Tough Mittens.
Thanks Techno. I’m goin’ with the hope that Mittens steps in it again and Conservatives continue to rally around Rick..or both.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.