Here are some things to keep in mind when assessing Rick Santorum’s chances of beating Mitt Romney. He has no pollster, no campaign headquarters, and no paid advance staff. He’s currently getting outspent on television in Michigan by a ratio of 29-1.
You know the part of the campaign ad where the candidate identifies himself and says he approves this message? The completely ubiquitous feature of modern political advertising? Santorum’s new ad seems to have forgotten it.
He also failed to get his name on the ballot in such states as Virginia and Indiana. Perhaps you have heard of them.
Citing Citizens United is not a serious response. It may make the extent to which Romney can outspend Santorum on ads a little less dramatic, but it can’t come close to eliminating the gap and it does nothing to solve any of the other problems.
The fact that Romney has spent a lot of time in national polls behind vanity and outright joke candidates does, in fact, reveal that he is a very weak candidate, and would clearly lose to a minimally competent, relatively orthodox conservative with a serious, well-funded campaign. But he’s going to win anyway because he hasn’t faced one, and once Perry — the one poll frontrunner who could have seriously contested the nomination — failed the “minimally competent” test, it was clear sailing. The hapless Gingrich actually fails to meet any of the criteria for a serious contender. Santorum will remain standing for a little while longer because he’s a little better than Newt — his negatives aren’t as high, he’s actually won state-wide office in a purple state (granting that he also lost said office in a landslide), and his failure to build a serious campaign infrastructure seems more than a question of resources than will (although at this late date I’m not sure the distinction matters.) Santorum could certainly challenge Romney given a rough parity of resources and reasonably spaced-out primary dates, but in the actually existing race he has almost no chance.