Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Big news: Santorum wins Alabama and Mississippi.

"Romney . . . has won the two, two important things: people who think the economy is the most important thing, and that want to beat Obama. And so I think that voters across the country, whether they buy, whether they’re watching the day to day big picture, they think that . . . and I think that’s why he’s competitive in the South when a lot of people thought that he wouldn’t even be able to show up there, people if you ask those two questions tend to think that Romney would be the best nominee."

--Dana Perino, “Fox News Sunday” 3.11.12
(direct from recording; transcript not available)

Well, after placing third in both Mississippi and Alabama, maybe Romney’s not so “competitive in the South” after all. The East Coast-based GOP establishment is desperate to close out the Republican nomination, as the above remarks last Sunday by Bush 43’s press secretary suggest. But what does “competitive” mean anyway when in advance of the two Southern contests, two-thirds of the votes are already expected to go against your yankee?

Establishment Washington D.C. detested loser Goldwater in 1964, regretted the damage Reagan did to President Ford in 1976 (who lost), and resented Pat Buchanan’s divisive primary battle against President George H.W. Bush in 1992, including Buchanan’s “culture war” convention speech (Bush then lost). They forget Reagan won twice in spite of them, and that establishment favorites Bob Dole (1996) and John McCain (2008) turned out to be dogs.

The establishment want Romney, and they want him now. Here’s the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, writing in a column titled “Math matters: Romney widening his lead”:
By winning 9 delegates in American Samoa and 45% of the vote in Hawaii, Romney wiped out Rick Santorum’s narrow wins in the Deep South . . . Santorum’s task to get to 1,114 [sic] delegates is that much harder. . . The nominating process is about the delegates. Math, like gravity, can’t be ignored.
Romney did sweep through Hawaii and Samoa yesterday. Overall, he bested Santorum 43 to 36 delegates, even after Santorum’s headline, surprising wins in the “heart of Dixie.” But contrary to what Romney shill Jennifer Rubin asserts, the math isn’t widening Mitt’s lead. Romney’s goal is get to 1,144 delegates, ½ + 1. That means he must win 50% of the available delegates. Yesterday, he won 43% of the available (and thus far assigned) delegates, and “ABM” (anybody but Mitt) won 57%.

Before yesterday, Romney had 55% of the total delegates. Now—Rubin take note—his percentage is down to 53%. Where will that percentage be March 25, after the Missouri, Puerto Rico, Illinois, and Louisiana contests; after almost half the delegates are assigned? Still dropping toward 50%? Is Romney winning or losing to “ABM”?

Meanwhile, Santorum is picking up support within the Republican establishment. The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger recently said,
Rick Santorum should stay in the race, repeating from now till summer the perverse link between the ObamaCare mandate and the American idea of freedom. It looks like the best argument the GOP nominee will have for a win in November.
And Jonah Goldberg, in the Los Angeles Times, pivoted off Santorum when he wrote:
Because many liberals believe there's no valid limiting principle on government's ability to do "good," they assume that conservatives believe there's no valid limiting principle [on government's ability] to do "bad." Rick Santorum . . . explained the flaw in this thinking: "Here's the difference between me and the left, and they don't get this: Just because I'm talking about it doesn't mean I want a government program to fix it. That's what they do. That's not what we do."
To sum up, we now have a two-person race between Romney and Santorum. But the current dynamics are Romney v. “ABM.” Romney must win half the delegates. Santorum only needs to deny Romney that goal, a lesser challenge.

Establishment pundits often refer to how McCain had his nomination wrapped up after February's "Super Tuesday" in 2008, when Romney graciously pulled out. Why can't conservatives offer Romney the courtesy in 2012 that Romney offered four years ago?

The difference is that Romney's weakness worked for a pullout then, and now works against leaving the field to Romney today. In 2008, weak challenger Romney had no real prospect of stopping McCain. Now in 2012, Romney is the weak front runner, and conservatives, after Santorum wins in Alabama and Mississippi yesterday and Kansas last Saturday, are increasingly hopeful Romney will be stopped. ABM.

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