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In re Santorum

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fontes

I confess to having paid almost no attention to the GOP “race,” in part because my two favorite prognosticators of such things have been saying for quite some time that there was no longer as a practical matter any question about the outcome. This, however, makes me wonder a bit. If Santorum is leading Romney by more than 2 to 1 among Republicans in Romney’s home state (a state in which Romney’s father was elected governor once upon a time on the Socialist Worker’s Party ticket) does this suggest it’s time to rethink his inevitability (assuming Gingrich drops out soon I suppose)?

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  • Cee Jimmy

    Wayne Fontes???

    • rea

      Clueless and from Michigan!

      • Joseph Slater

        Actually, the Wayne Fontes years were better than what followed, until this past season.

        • rea

          Which is not to say, however, that he wasn’t clueless.

      • kth

        Matt Millen would have driven the point home more emphatically, methinks, as he was a much greater locus of fail.

  • Ken

    But is there any reason to think Santorum’s ratings won’t follow the same path as the other not-Romneys? Especially once the attack ads begin and his favorable/unfavorable numbers start to even out.

    • proverbialleadballoon

      this is how i see it as well. frothy is the last of the ‘not-romneys’; it’s his turn to put on the icarus costume.

      • elm

        The only difference is that this is his second turn as “not-Romney.” Romney focused the attacks on him after Iowa and successfully defeated him only to see him rise again.

        I suspect that Santorum’s numbers will plunge before the next primaries, as everyone else’s did, but Santorum might be more resilient than the other not-Romneys.

        • The big problem for Romney is that, while he may well be able to destroy Santorum, he will probably destroy his general election chances in the process. He’s already done a lot of damage to his reputation by going relentlessly negative; it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, to undo that damage going forward. If he has to go even more negative, especially in yet another swing state, he could simply make himself unelectable.

          • RhZ

            He will do better than the other not-Romneys. Because what Romney lacks is the fundy love. And that’s just what Rick has got. Indeed, its all he’s got, them and the lobbyist lobby.

        • Hanspeter

          Unlike the other Not-Romneys, Santorum is both crazy and not stupid, and was able to keep a good chunk of the fundies even after losing Iowa. So he was able to survive the fate of Tpaw, Prick, Cain, Bachmann, and Huntsman when their own money or brains gave out (none had both).

        • Tybalt

          He probably will be more resilient, if only because he will attract not-Romney money – a least a trickle of it – all the way through the season. That probably won’t make him electable, but he’s also been better organized than many of the earlier not-Romneys.

          However, like the others, once he’s better known and understood, his polls will plummet. Santorum has little or no appeal to the Tea Party.

    • Charlie Sweatpants

      “But is there any reason to think Santorum’s ratings won’t follow the same path as the other not-Romneys?”

      Perhaps. He’s not nearly as vulnerable to all out attack as Gingrich is. Newt’s got a ton of baggage, everything from taking money from the hated Frannie and Freddie to the three wives. The list goes on and on. By contrast, what’s the knock on Little Ricky? That’s he’s a “Washington insider”? That’s weak sauce. Unlike Perry, he can string more than two words together, and unlike Cain or Bachmann, he’s won statewide office. He’s got a real presidential resume and, unlike Mittens, he’s won more than a single election.

      As far as Not Romneys go, he’s pretty good. That’s a low bar, but as we’ve all seen, Romney’s not exactly a great candidate.

      • RhZ

        +1

      • Sharon

        Frothy Mix also has his leadership of the K Street Project under his belt. Santorum was K Street’s link to the Hill during the Delay years. He directed lobbyist cash to Hill members, vetted senior level and government relations job applicants.

        I don’t think it’s the candidate killer that, “Crazy Newt is crazy, plus unstable,” was, but linking him to Casino jack’s culture might do some damage.

        • commie atheist

          Dennis G. at Baloon Juice helpfully suggests that Mitt point out Santorum’s connections, not just to Abramoff, but more specifically to the Saipan forced-prostitution-and-abortions sweatshops. As John notes below, however, for Mitt to make those kind of attacks in a Republican primary would put him in the position of attacking Santorum from the left, and amy not even sway a lot of Republican voters anyway.

          • for Mitt to make those kind of attacks in a Republican primary would put him in the position of attacking Santorum from the left

            after he just watched Newt Gingrich seriously wound himself with the Republican electorate and elites by doing the same thing (the vulture capitalist line).

            • Ben

              If Mittens emphasizes the culture war stuff (forced prostitution and abortions, that’s pretty hard-core) and hardly mentions the broader more generic evil of sweatshops?

              Could there be anything more devastating to Santorum’s standing among the fundies than Willard saying “Rick . . . Rick . . . Rick, you directed public money to pay for abortions”?

              • I can how it could be done, certainly.

                I can also see it backfiring, like Gingrich’s attacks on Bain.

                I guess it would depend on how well it’s done. Did I mention that we’re talking about Mitt Romney?

                • Ben

                  Good point. But Willard was able to deflate Gingrich pretty deftly with the Fanny Freddy stuff.

                  A part of me wants him to just crush Santorum on this, because Santorum’s reactions would be hilarious.

                  But another part is hoping against hope that Santorum makes a game of the nomination.

                  I guess the most likely thing to have happen is that they’re both good’n dirty once it’s all over. And when you’re trying to minimize Santorum, you usually are. *zing*

              • commie atheist

                Some of the commenters at Ballon Juice make the point that the GOP base may not even care about those things, considering they were done to non-whites in a distant land that’s not the U.S. of A., happened a long time ago, etc. And Santorum could respond with some Net-style indignation over being wrongly accused of such horrible things, which could go over with the base.

                Plus, it would require Mitt to bring up all of the K-Street scandals, which would probably not sit well with the GOP establishment. Apparently McCain has a lot of stuff from the investigation under wraps, that would implicate not only Santorum, but Grover Norquist and others who would prefer that it all stayed buried and out of mind of the electorate.

        • kth

          K Street is bad because Ricky has kind of a Boy Scout image among the uninformed. The contrast is pretty brutal.

      • John

        There’s tons of very effective attacks that could be made on Santorum. It’s hard to see how any of these attacks could be made in a Republican primary.

        • strannix

          I wonder if going at him for being a loser wouldn’t be effective. Santorum got crushed in his last re-election campaign – how’s he going to beat Obama? How can he campaign on conservative principles when he’s such an ineffective spokesman that he lost to Bob Casey? Then follow that up with random demonization of Bob Casey.

          Try to make it a choice, in the primary electorate’s collective mind, between Romney and Obama. Romney wins if he gets people to see those as the choices.

          • This would be a tough attack for someone trailing Santorum to make.

            “Oh, yeah, Mitt? Then what does that make you?”

            • strannix

              John Kerry, 2004?

              • I’m just saying, when you’re trailing Santorum, you have to watch your ass.

                • commie atheist

                  Or at least have plenty of tissues.

      • DrDick

        Good points, but I remain unconvinced that he is anything more than a flash in the pan. He won mostly in states with a big Talibangelical vote and he is better positioned for them than Romney or Gingrich. If he can maintain that in other states where they are not as important, then I will give him more serious consideration.

  • Jesse Levine

    Not a joke. If Santorum is the nominee (he could be without a brokered convention), no matter how badly he is beaten in the general it ensures another generation with one of the major parties waging a perpetual scorched earth campaign of racial and religous animosity. For their victory in that war,the failure of most generally accepted secular programs and institutions is essential.

    • Not necessarily. If Santorum gets destroyed Mondale-in-84 style (which is a lot more likely than him winning), it could actually force the GOP to confront the idea that they have, in fact, moved too far to the right. This process won’t happen if Mitt gets creamed; in that case, it will be argued by the right that they need to move still further right, and there’s only fascism further right than where they are.

      • proverbialleadballoon

        that’s funny. your analysis contains ‘self-awareness’ and ‘ideas’, of which the modern gop has no use. and how much further right is fascism from today’s u.s. conservatism, a micron? no, they haven’t actually started rounding people up for the gulag, but you know they would if they could. starting with you.

        • Tybalt

          They’re not stupid, you know. The GOP plays the game well. They have allies throughout society and while I think they’ve painted themselves into a corner by overpromising and overwishing, they’re not doing that poorly out of it.

          And knowing as many Republicans as I do, I disagree with what you’re saying about they want. The GOP are people, not a bogeyman.

      • FMguru

        Presidents tend to win their re-elections (it’s useful to think of most Presidencies as an 8-year term with a not-too-difficult vote of confidence in the middle) and their re-elections tend to be blowouts as often as not. Reagan in 1984, Nixon in 1972, Johnson in 1964 all romped to victory. I figured if Romney was the candidate, Obama would most likely win a close re-election (like Clinton 1996 or Bush 2004), but now I’m thinking a classic blowout is in the offing – either because Santorum is the nominee (and man, that would lead to the Dems sweeping up both chambers of Congress and a bunch of governorships and state assemblies) or because Romney is the nomniee and he’s a lousy candidate leading an unenthused party that seems to hate his guts.

      • strannix

        If Santorum gets destroyed Mondale-in-84 style (which is a lot more likely than him winning), it could actually force the GOP to confront the idea that they have, in fact, moved too far to the right.

        Right. As I recall, this is exactly what happened when GWB left the White House in disgrace after his second term.

        • “Leaving in disgrace” isn’t the same thing as losing an election, leaving in disgrace after your second term, even less so.

          • strannix

            Of course not, but surely you remember more than a few rightword commentators blaming Obama’s victory on Bush’s and McCain’s insufficient devotion to true conservatism.

            • You’ve got a point there.

              There might not be any politician sufficiently right-wing that his defeat can’t be blamed on his not being a TRUE conservative.

              • strannix

                Which was exactly my point in the first place.

                • It might have been a bit clearer that your point was about reactions to electoral defeats, if your example had included an electoral defeat.

        • commie atheist

          You mean that noted liberal GWB? The corrective narrative has already been written on the right.

    • proverbialleadballoon

      and if romney is the nominee and gets thumped, the echo chamber will perceive it as his ‘not being conservative enough’. the scorched earth campaign happens either way. in fact, it happens if they win. divisive politics is all they got, and we’ll be seeing plenty of it in the next fifteen to twenty years no matter what happens in november.

      • mpowell

        Well, this is why I have to agree with Jeff over Jesse. The Republican party is much more likely to stay extremely right-wing with a Romney loss than a Santorum loss. If they try to nominate a more right wing candidate than Santorum in 2016, for example, they’ll be crushed even more severely pretty much regardless of the state of the nation. So if they go that direction I think they’ll learn their lesson pretty quickly.

  • NorthLeft12

    As a + 40 year Lions fan I object to one of the most successful coaches in our history [at least the history I witnessed] being used in a story about choosing a Republican candidate. Wayne was probably trying to figure out how he could get a half decent QB.

    NOTE: It is not as easy as it seems.

    • Barry Sanders would make anybody appear competent.

  • Scott Lemieux

    Obviously, Mittens is completely inevitable. I have never made an erroneous predication about a primary race!

  • RhZ

    Mich isn’t really his home state. Rick is still just the flavor of the month, and this race has been characterized as one new flavor after another.

    That said, I am fervently praying to the goddess as we speak…

    Say it with me, Santorum/Palin!

  • (assuming Gingrich drops out soon I suppose)?

    Well, any candidate is only one sugar daddy away from staying in till the convention if they want to. And Gingrich is not the sort to allow reality to stop him from staying in as long as someone is paying.

  • Barbara

    I know this is an over-simplification, but blue collar Republicans in Michigan love the auto plants and are socially conservative, to say the least. (KKK anyone?) Those old enough to remember George Romney are just as likely to recall that he thought the US generals in VN tried to brainwash him as they are going to let that “he was a good governor” glow dictate that they vote for the son. Mitt himself has no real ties to the state: he went to high school there, graduating in 1965; has he been back there to live since? He is identified as the former governor of Mass. and the Utah Olympics guy. I have never understood the “Michigan connection” as the reason Michiganders would vote for him. His “let them go bankrupt” view of the auto industry is well-known; since the other candidates are also ultra conservatives, what does Mitt bring to the party in MI?

    • TT

      I think Santorum can run quite an effective campaign against Romney in MI as a candidate of the (white) working class. He did vote against NAFTA as a congressman, after all, and though he eventually became a classic Abramoff/K Street corporate handmaiden during his Senate career, I think there’s enough in his record and background that he can use to draw major contrasts with Romney on economic issues, and thus draw political blood.

      There are lots of Teabaggers in MI as well (case in point: Gov. Snyder), and if Santorum looks like he’s becoming less of a right-wing protest vote and more of a plausible party nominee, they could swing toward him big-time.

      • The Real TT

        As who works in Michigan state government, the idea that Rick Snyder is a darling of the Tea Party is ludicrous. They hate him.

    • witless chum

      The thing about the Michigan Republican primary is that it’s often hijacked by Independents and Democrats. Who’d seem likely to vote Romney, if they’re going to bother. That’s how Snyder got the Republican nomination.

      • Nah; they’re piling onto Santorum, constituting about 20% of his lead.

        Invest in Jiffy-Pop.

        • Uncle Kvetch

          Invest in Jiffy-Pop.

          Am I the only one who’s finding that as Santorum continues to surge the whole thing is becoming less entertaining and more queasy-making? I mean, Palin is good for laffs too, except for those couple of months when she actually had a shot at being the VP, during which time I found myself contemplating jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.

          • djw

            Yep.

            I can see, in some hypothetical future world, how Santorum winning the nomination was overall a good thing, for a few entirely plausible reasons. But the actual suffering through 8 months of the very real chance of that asshole becoming president is something I’d certainly prefer to avoid.

            • Malaclypse

              But the actual suffering through 8 months of the very real chance of that asshole becoming president is something I’d certainly prefer to avoid.

              I still say that this statement is equally true for Romney, or any other Republican. Is there anything at all that makes you think Romney would stand up to Eric Cantor on anything whatsoever?

              If anything, I think Santorum would be slightly less likely to start stupid wars. I don’t see any other difference between the two.

              • djw

                I still maintain that in some non-trivial ways, Romney would probably be a less awful president. But that’s not the main thing driving my emotional response.

                Romney, to me, is an exaggerated stereotype of a particular kind of politician; saying what needs to be said to whatever audience he’s selling himself to. All ambition, virtually no content. I don’t care for his type, of course, but even in my more hopeful visions of the future I recognize they’re not going anywhere.

                I guess what makes Santorum (and Bachmann, had it come to that) especially depressing is the reminder that despite all the progress that’s been made, the bloodthirsty enthusiasm of their rank bigotry is either no big deal or an enthusiastic plus to a significant portion of my fellow citizens. I know this to be true in some intellectual sense, even if Santorum loses, but it’s not the same.

                • commie atheist

                  Santorum would get at least 27% of the vote, that’s for certain. However, seeing him in any way appealing to a sufficient number of so-called “independents” and Democrats to get within even 10 points of an incumbent Obama, bad economy or not, stretches credulity.

                • djw

                  Yeah, I can’t really agree with this. Anyone who can win a primary can win a general if conditions are right. Candidate quality matters at the margins, and at any rate Santorum is no Palin. I’d venture to say he may has a better chance than Romney in Ohio, where swing voters are pretty conservative on social issues, and where ROmney’s inability to pretend he’s not a 1%er are particularly problematic.

                  I’m not saying Santorum instead of Romney doesn’t hurt the GOP chances. But it certainly doesn’t destroy them. If Romney’s chances of winning are X, I can’t imagine placing Santorum’s any lower than .6*X.

                • Murc

                  What djw said. The Republicans could nominate Zombie Hitler and he’d probably clear 40% in the general.

                  I’ve made this point before, but I’ll make it again as it bears repeating; John McCain got 45% of the vote. 45%. He was running on a Grandpa Simpson platform, on a destroyed brand, with a millstone of a running mate around his neck, during a massive crisis that was blamed on his party, against a talented a campaigner, and made a ton of campaign miss-steps of his own.

                  And he got 45% of the vote. That was his FLOOR. He could have eaten a kitten on live TV and not gone any lower.

                  Hypothetical candidate Santorum probably actually does BETTER this year than McCain did.

              • dewces

                Santorum thinks crusades have a bad rap.

              • Mal, let me ask you something.

                If you were a wingnut, would you trust Mitt Romney to go to Washington and advance your agenda?

                • Malaclypse

                  If I were insane, I would believe, and disbelieve, many insane things.

                  But as a sane person, I believe Mittens will govern with one goal – never face a primary like this again.

                • Murc

                  I’m not Mal, but I’ll chime in here, and will be making a longer post about this on the authenticity thread later.

                  Based on his record and my measure of the man, if I were a wingnut, I would trust Romney to advance my agenda so long as the Republicans controlled one, preferably both, parties of Congress. I could rely on Eric Cantor to keep him in line. I’d be less that thrilled at his reluctance to do things that need to be done foreign policy wise, like sending troops to Greater Israel to expel the Palestinians and nuking Iran, but the true believers would tie his hands.

                  What I wouldn’t trust is how he’d govern with a Democrat Congress. Romney is an accomodationist, someone who clearly doesn’t believe in the movement but wants to be a conventionally successful President. Faced with Democrat control of Congress, he’d make deals with them rather than taking hostages. And that I cannot abide. I’d much rather have someone who I know is COMMITTED to burning down the government. Relying on institutional factors to tie his hands only gets you so far.

                  Okay, geez. Wingnut hat off. Wow, I actually feel hungover, like I’m coming down from a drug of some sort. That shit is INSIDIOUS.

                • djw

                  Agree with Murc.

                • Tybalt

                  Good stuff Murc. This is the kind of thing I hear from Republicans; they don’t trust Romney to do much else than give away tax points to his millionaire friends, and cave to Democrats in congress otherwise.

                • Tybalt

                  Of course, many of the Republicans I know want those tax points… :)

      • Charlie Sweatpants

        “The thing about the Michigan Republican primary is that it’s often hijacked by Independents and Democrats.”

        They changed the rules this year so that you have to “declare” yourself a Republican to vote in the primary. I don’t know what the practical effect of that is going to be (discouraging voting being en vogue among Republicans these days), but it’s not going to be the open primary that it used to be.

        • witless chum

          In the past, I’ve had to declare I was a Democrat participating in the Michigan primary as a Democrat.

          The thing they’re actually doing to try to forestall an invasion is using some sort of chicanery to force the state Dems to hold a meaningless primary on the same date, hoping that a fair amount of Dems will cast a meaningless vote for Obama, rather than picking the least bad Republican.

  • Mitt : Michigan :: W : Connecticut

    I would pay it zero attention

  • LoriK

    Even if Michigan counts as Mitt’s home state I don’t think we can ask about the implications of how Santorum is doing there without also looking at how Santorum is doing in his own home state. Pennsylvania does not love Rick. There’s a reason he got his ass handed to him the last time he ran there.

  • Does Michigan really even count as Romney’s home state anymore?

    His father was governor there forty years ago. Mitt has no political, business, or public history there.

    Massachusetts is Mitt’s home state. He’s a northeast Republican, and he keeps winning in the northeast.

    Santorum is a midwest Republican, and he’s going to do well in the midwest.

  • skidmarx

    a state in which Romney’s father was elected governor once upon a time on the Socialist Worker’s Party ticket

    Wikipedia gives:

    Romney’s position as the leader of the moderate Republicans at the constitutional convention helped gain him the Republican nomination for Governor of Michigan

    Is it wrong, or were there Trotskyist entrists in the GOP at the time?

    • Malaclypse

      The cold dead body of sarcasm was recently found, with an ice axe in the back of the skull.

      • +1 for correct weaponology.

        “Ice pick” makes it sound like James Bond discreetly got the better of him during cocktail hour.

  • mike in dc

    Rick Santorum winning the nomination would to me be irrefutable evidence that God exists…and that She is a tree-hugging hippie socialist with a wicked sense of humor.

  • JohnR

    I don’t think anyone needs to worry too much about a Santorum candidacy. Look at Maine just now for a microcosm. The guys with the bucks don’t intend for Romney to lose, and as the old saying goes “It doesn’t matter who casts the votes; it only matters who counts the votes.” Santorum has had more staying power, but in the end he’s McCain to Romney’s Bush. I’m not sure that Santorum is willing to swallow his pride and wait for next time, like McCain did, though. He actually believes his own lunacy.

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