Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Take Two and Call Me in the Morning

It seems that Mitt Romney followed the doctor's advice very well on Tuesday.  Romney was able to successfully fend off a primary challenge in Michigan by the increasingly erratic Rick Santorum, former Senator from Pennsylvania, as well as cruise to a huge victory in Arizona last night.  Even though it appears that Romney and Santorum will each receive 15 delegates in Michigan, the fact that Romney won the popular vote, albeit by only 3 points, has squashed any discussion of late entrants into the race for now.  A win is a win and to the victor go the spoils.  Romney will be able to control the news narrative as we head toward Super Tuesday and its ten contests in just six days.  Romney is currently favored to win half of them, including delegate rich states like Virginia (only Ron Paul is on the ballot with him) and Massachusetts.  Romney should also easily win Vermont.  Idaho has a fairly good sized Mormon population that will help Romney in that state's caucuses.  Alaska is probably up for grabs.  Ohio will be the big question for the Romney campaign, and probably where the candidate will focus his attention for the next week.  The rest of the contests are either in rural states or the south, where the environment will be far more welcoming for both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.  Newt should win Georgia and he and Santorum will pick up a fair share of delegates in the rest of the states.

Super Tuesday will not settle the nomination for the GOP but it will probably make it all but inevitable for Mitt Romney.  After last night he has at least 145 delegates compared to Santorum's 82 (if all unbound delegates from Colorado and Minnesota are awarded to him).  Ohio will be the harbinger of things to come.  I expect Mitt Romney to win Ohio, probably in much the same fashion as he did Michigan.  One reason for that is Rick Santorum's inability to craft a clear, concise, and concrete message to voters.  He suffers greatly from his need to pander to social conservatives by making outlandish claims about Dutch euthanasia, wanting to 'throw up' when hearing JFK talk about the separation of church and state, calling the president a 'snob' who wants all kids to attend college so they can be spiritually destroyed and 'indoctrinated' into Obama's 'phony theology.'  Instead of focusing on his economic policies (Santorum makes a lot of sense when he does so) he wanders down rabbit trails and says things that make him seem naive, if not downright crazy.  In addition, Santorum, like Gingrich, appears to have no real campaign in the normal sense of the word.  It is a fly-by-night seat-of your-pants operation that doesn't know what the next move should be.  I have tried contacting all four campaigns with invitations to speak in Mississippi and received relatively quick responses from two of them (Romney's camp has indicated a willingness if he visits Mississippi, Paul declined).  Not a word from Santorum or Gingrich.  Mitt Romney has, if anything, demonstrated to us once again that nominations are won by well-organized, well-funded campaigns backed by the established party elite.  It's Romney's turn and the GOP will do what it always does and nominate the guy whose turn it is.

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