Monday, March 5, 2012
Predictions for Super Tuesday
A mixed result will be good for Mitt Romney in his inexorable (and boring) march to the GOP nomination. And that's what Super Tuesday will give. Romney can't help winning three primaries at a minimum -- his home state of Massachusetts, which none of the other candidates will contest; the neighboring state of Vermont, which is very liberal, and which would never have been fertile ground for either Santorum's Catholic conservatism or Gingrich's southern brand; and Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich unaccountably failed to collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. (More about this later.)
Gingrich, meanwhile, will win his home state of Georgia handily. But what will that mean in the long run? Not much. Perhaps, if Santorum drops out, Gingrich can hang on as the nominal conservative alternative to Santorum. But Gingrich can't win, so why is he still in the race? Ego? Yes.
Which leaves Santorum. He will win Oklahoma, but that won't mean much. An ultra-conservative state that Republicans will inevitably win anyway in November doesn't provide much of a boost to him. He ought to win Tennessee too, although I could see Gingrich or Romney picking that state off. So what Super Tuesday boils down to, really, is whether Santorum can hang on and beat Romney in Ohio, where Santorum, the former Pennsylvania Senator, ought to have a natural constituency. Looking at the polls, he had a big lead there two weeks ago, but two weeks is a lifetime in this race, and Romney's momentum has been building since then. Romney has more money and a better organization. I see him pulling out Ohio over Santorum, which will give him 4 victories to Santorum's 2 and Gingrich's 1. At that point, the rationale for Santorum's candidacy evaporates, because the math will mean that he can't win, and the money will dry up.
It was a good run for Santorum, and he has a future in national politics, methinks, but he was a day late and a dollar short this time, I'm afraid.
That's how the Regular Guy sees it. I've been wrong before.
Re the Virginia ballot fiasco: it also appears that Santorum screwed up in Ohio and that, even if he wins the popular vote, he won't have enough slates of delegates up for election to win a majority of delegates. This is the sort of thing that happens in a campaign run on a shoestring. But organization matters, and follow through matters, and attention to detail matters. This sort of debacle ought not to happen in a national campaign, and it says something about the leadership skills of the candidate who allows it to happen. I like Santorum. But maybe at the end of the day he wasn't ready for prime time quite yet.