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Santorum Surge Subsides

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:18 am - February 29, 2012.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

In his victory last night in the Wolverine State, Mitt Romney won 72,000 more votes than he did just four years ago, upping his percentage from 38.92% of the vote then to 41.1% this year.  And this despite some stumbles in recent days — and a concerted Democratic attempt to get out the vote for his rival Rick Santorum.  Of the 9% of voters who identified as Democrats, Santorum beat Romney by a nearly 3-to-1 margin, 53% to 18%:

Romney won decisively among Republicans, 48 to 37 and narrowly among independents 35 to 34.  (Had no Democrats voted in the Republican primary, Romney would have won more decisively — with an 8-point margin.)

The state, in many ways, was a must-win for both candidates.  For Romney, because he had been born in the state.  And for Santorum, to show he could win in a contested primary after sweeping the beauty contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri earlier this month.  On one poll this month showed him up 15 points over Romney.  He lost by 3, an 18-point swing in two weeks.  The Santorum surge has subsided.

Turnout was up too.  And Ron Paul more than doubled his showing, from 54,475 in 2008 to 115,956 this year.  Seems that libertarian ideas have greater resonance in the Obama era.

Jennifer Rubin offers evidence that I may have been onto something yesterday (in a post referencing Romney’s rebuking Santorum for attempting to get Democrats to vote for their man):  the former Massachusetts governor “won by 38 to 31 percent over Rick Santorum [among] voters who made up their minds today, suggesting there may have been a backlash against Santorum’s robocalls to Democrats.

Mitt Romney may have averted disaster, as our friends in the legacy media have headlined his success last night.  He is, as Charles Krauthammer said last night, the story line.  But, that story is not complete.  Santorum stumbled significantly since his hat trick three weeks ago.  Had he downplayed his social conservatism, as did, say the current governor of Virginia, he likely would have done much better last night.

Romney’s resilience, his ability to rally after a series of reverses, shows that he has the inner resources for a tough campaign.  And that is one part of the story.  The second part is Santorum.  He showed stamina, staying with it, even after finishing poorly in four successive states (New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Nevada), but stumbled significantly since surprising everyone on February 7th.

He just created the impression of being obsessed with social issues.  Republicans, even independents, will support a social conservative, even in such socially liberal bastions as Northern Virginia’s Fairfax County (as Bob McDonnell, the aforementioned governor of the Old Dominion did in 2009) as long as they focus on economic issues.  Perhaps had he done that in the past three weeks, he might have emerged the frontrunner after last night’s contest.

Santorum didn’t himself any favors with his rambling speech — though he did show some class in calling Romney to concede.  He would have done better to congratulate him publicly in his concession speech.

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15 Comments

  1. Mitt’s victory also shows that if you have a well-funded SuperPAC capable of unleashing millions of dollars in attack ads, you don’t need principles, bold ideas, or heartfelt convictions.

    Comment by V the K — February 29, 2012 @ 6:16 am - February 29, 2012

  2. V the K, unfortunately, 1) most successful candidates learn that, and 2) we the voters let it happen.

    Comment by Pat — February 29, 2012 @ 7:24 am - February 29, 2012

  3. good piece…impressive site !!!

    Comment by Matt T. — February 29, 2012 @ 7:26 am - February 29, 2012

  4. It also shows you can’t rely on a liberal “base” that hoped to mess with the primary results. Loved the quotes from Michigan liberals about how they had to shower after casting their votes for Santorum. If this country was faced with a choice between Santorum and Obama, we would all need an acid bath shower to be sufficiently clean because this country would either be run by a theocratic liberal nanny state proponent or the unpatriotic, sympathizer of the radical Muslim factions, nanny state proponent who has been running this country into the ground for the past four years. Yeah, some choice.

    Comment by PopArt — February 29, 2012 @ 7:46 am - February 29, 2012

  5. Meh, they spent four years calling Bush a Theocratic fascist, too. I have not seen anything that Rick Santorum has proposed that would constitute the imposition of a theocratic nanny state.

    Comment by V the K — February 29, 2012 @ 7:53 am - February 29, 2012

  6. Eight… maybe ten.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 29, 2012 @ 9:26 am - February 29, 2012

  7. I just checked Santorum’s web site. It seems better than it was a week ago, when he was distinctly leading off with the social issues like his opposition to gay marriage. Now he emphasizes the pocketbook issues. That’s good.

    Still, something about his proposals and rhetoric feels like a mishmash, rather than a vision. They don’t form an inspiring whole, like Reagan’s did or even Herman Cain’s. I have (and, Santorum says he has) much the same criticism of Willard Mittens’ proposals.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — February 29, 2012 @ 9:32 am - February 29, 2012

  8. Go Romney! Nice comeback, Mitt is a lot tougher than many realize.

    By the way I have no problem with his negative attacks on Santorum, it tells me he is ready to tear up on Obama.

    Comment by Geena — February 29, 2012 @ 10:21 am - February 29, 2012

  9. Mitt’s victory also shows that if you have a well-funded SuperPAC capable of unleashing millions of dollars in attack ads, you don’t need principles, bold ideas, or heartfelt convictions.

    Or that maybe Mitt’s victory shows Santorum isn’t a very good candidate to begin with. If he was, why did it take so long for Conservatives to even notice he was there? He’s like the plain, smelly girl in the corner jumping up and down begging anybody to take her to the prom. Conservative Guy has a date, the girl that he’s expected to take to the dance, but he just isn’t that hot for her. So he tries to see if he can find someone else, anyone else, to go with him instead of the one girl. But Santorum isn’t even the “sloppy seconds” choice. Conservative Guy had to go through Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Newt… Twice… before he’s were left with Santorum as their potential prom date.

    Comment by sonicfrog — February 29, 2012 @ 12:06 pm - February 29, 2012

  10. am forecasting a new definition in the urban dictionary with this post’s title.

    sorry, but as Peter H often lovely states: Yes I went there. . .Deal with it.

    Comment by rusty — February 29, 2012 @ 12:59 pm - February 29, 2012

  11. “am forecasting a new definition in the urban dictionary with this post’s title.”

    What, another homosexual pejorative? What could be more disgusting than “teabagging” and “frothy mix’? Speaking of frothy mix, have you had too much to drink?

    Comment by rjligier — February 29, 2012 @ 1:54 pm - February 29, 2012

  12. sorry rj. . .so sorry

    maybe this will help

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niLoLtBw4AY&feature=player_embedded

    Comment by rusty — February 29, 2012 @ 2:21 pm - February 29, 2012

  13. have you had too much to drink?

    Nope, just another juvenile, intellectually stunted lefty.

    Comment by V the K — February 29, 2012 @ 9:33 pm - February 29, 2012

  14. Nope, just another juvenile, intellectually stunted individual stuck in a past time of posting soft porn trying to be clever .

    Comment by rusty — February 29, 2012 @ 9:39 pm - February 29, 2012

  15. Actually, I’ve seen other soft porn references by others, lefty and otherwise. For example, when Anthony Wiener was engaging in his picture posting. This one seemed no less tame than the others.

    Comment by Pat — March 1, 2012 @ 7:23 am - March 1, 2012

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