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Santorum: Three Wins and it’s Over

Contrary to popular belief, Romney isn’t doing all that hot in this primary.  He’s won exactly 3 states, the same as Santorum.  The major differences are that Romney took the “winner take all” of Florida (with 50 delegates) and Santorum has won all of the non-binding caucuses.  Still, there’s a way for Santorum to push his contenders out of this race in the near future – something no pundit thought possible just weeks ago.  

There are three states coming up that mean a lot not because of their delegate count, but because of how we will interpret the wins.  First is Michigan on Feb 28th.  Michigan is a big deal for a couple of reasons, but perhaps most important in this primary race is that it is “Mitt’s home state”.  Mitt has had a huge lead for months here as all would expect.  Last August, for instance, EPIC-MRA had Romney up by 27 on the next best candidate.  On the 25th of January that number, in the same poll, was +5.  Santorum hadn’t even hit his surge at that point, but was beginning to get some momentum in those polls. 

If Mitt were to lose Michigan to Santorum, the Romney campaign would begin to tailspin like we’ve not seen.   Further, if Gingrich took his 6th straight 3rd place finish – we might begin to see a bow out from him.  What could help Santorum more than Gingrich getting out of the race?  Gingrich, of course, will not jump out so quick with his home state of Georgia coming up on March 6th (Super Tuesday). 

Make no mistake – Gingrich is counting on Super Tuesday and will point all barrels at Romney.  This will hurt Mitt and, in turn, help Santorum.  Santorum won’t have to attack Romney and Gingrich will only fan the flames under his feet.  Gingrich is also going to lean heavily on the largest delegate count state up to this point.  76 delegates in Georgia is nothing to sneeze at.  No state has as many delegates up for grabs until April 3rd when Texas holds its primary.  But Newt faces the same problem that Mitt does in Michigan – if he loses it he loses a lot more than those delegates.  In fact, if Newt loses Georgia, he will get out. 

Gingrich, in December, was +53 in the SurveyUSA poll – that same poll last week had him +13.  Then, a few days after the Santorum surge, he was up only 9 with Santorum stealing half of Romney’s supporters.  In 2 weeks Santorum went from polling at 1 to polling at 26!  Georgia is suddenly in play.  If Santorum even comes close in Michigan and performs well in Washington (a non-binding caucus that Santorum has done well in) then he could carry momentum into Georgia and force a bow out from Newt.

Now, the next important state is Ohio.  It has 66 delegates, falls on Super Tuesday, and is next door to Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania.  Santorum will know how to talk Ohio and, if he can win that primary along with Michigan and Georgia, might be able to end this race in March.  Now consider that Ohio was one of the first states to give Santorum a boost in the polls.  Before he swept his primaries last week, he was tied with Romney and Gingrich in the polls.  No poll has been published in Ohio since the Santorum Surge. 

It almost seems crazy to be talking about Santorum winning these states, but he’s within striking distance.  Truth is, he doesn’t even have to win Michigan and Georgia – but just has to come close.  Santorum is second in delegates, will continue to be after Super Tuesday with some 2nd place finishes, and with a potential bow out by Gingrich, he could give Romney a run for his money. 

Let us consider the near perfect timing for Santorum’s momentum run.  The guy is obviously the most conservative of the three candidates and holds a stronger contrast to Obama than Romney and Newt.  Santorum, last week, gets a huge boost sweeping three states.  That week is followed by the giant conservative convention (CPAC), and then Obama wakes up Catholic social conservatives (something that Santorum just happens to be).  Could you script this any better if you were his campaign manager?  I think not.

Lastly, it is notable that the states that Santorum is climbing in the polls in are also swing states.  If Santorum was able to win Michigan and Ohio, not only will he be able to say that he won those delegates, but he will be able to say that he is the only guy who can win swing states.  That will be a huge argument for his electability against Obama in the general election. 

Did I mention that Rick is up 15 nationally and polling better than Romney head to head than Newt or Romney?

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RightHandMan

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Comments
  • Country Thinker February 11, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    “Santorum has won all of the non-binding caucuses.”

    Which means he has won zero. Ron Paul’s ground game has been focusing on the delegates from the start. They think that when the final dlegate count is taken, the will have won all three states Santorum is claiming. If so it’s a 2-horse race between Paul and Romney.

    Santorum’s biggest problem is that he has no ground game. And he will also lose every state bordering the Pacific, as well as every Atlantic state, probably from North Carolina on up. That’s a lot of delegates where he has little or no chance.
    Country Thinker recently posted..Gratitude for a Blogging AwardMy Profile

  • RightHandMan
    RightHandMan February 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    I think that is a bit optimistic for Paul. Even if Paul wins those non-binding cauceses (which I doubt), it will be too little too late. Those primaries won’t be held for quite a while and the momentum that Santorum has picked up will have already translated to real delegate counts.

    In politics, perception is everything and right now Rick is perceived to be the best candidate and the conservative alternative. Also, the poll swings for Rick show two things. First, that Rick’s poll shifts are taking from Romney AND Newt and that Paul hasn’t shifted at all.

    • Country Thinker February 12, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      The momentum didn’t quite flow as you expected in Maine. Paul almost won, and plans to continue his delegate-centered approach by keeping his ground game there to walk away with the most delegates. Additionally, Romney won the CPAC straw poll, muting the Santorum surge.

      Again, I don’t know whether Paul’s campaign can pull off its strategy. I’m just telling you what they’re saying. As you may know, I’m working on Gary Johnson’s campaign, so my interests are coming from a different perspective. Obviously Johnson wants Paul’s endorsement if/when he concedes, and most of us in the Johnson camp want Romney to win the GOP nomination because he’s such an awful candidate. He should replace Biden on Obama’s ticket instead of vying for the GOP nomination!
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      • Teresa February 12, 2012 at 12:34 PM

        I think putting too much emphasis on a Santorum loss in Maine is imprudent. He didn’t visit Maine that much and wasn’t counting on Maine for a win. Maine is a RINO state as evidenced by who they have as their two senators. There is evidence that Santorum is picking up steam because he was a close second to Romney in the CPAC poll. Romney had 38 and Santorum received 31 percent while both Paul and Gingrich were much further behind with 12 and 15 respectively.

      • RightHandMan
        RightHandMan February 13, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        I would argue, in respect, that the momentum has carried on. Just a few weeks ago Santorum was polling in 4th, now he’s a solid 1st in almost all polls. The CPAC poll means little (see last year’s poll), and Santorum is now polling 6-8 points ahead of Mitt in Michigan – as I said could happen.

  • Matt February 11, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    While we’ve seen this race go back and forth quite a few times, it always seems that Romney, even though he outspends his opponents by at least 2 times, just eeks out victories.

    I’m thinking that most rank and file Republicans are still looking for the anti-Romney.
    Matt recently posted..Parents are Apparently Unqualified to Make Decisions About School ChoiceMy Profile

  • Steve Dennis February 11, 2012 at 6:41 PM

    If Santorum beats Romney in Michigan, Romney is in real trouble. If Newt bows out of the race I think Mitt Romney is all done because we saw in the three contests last week what will happen to Romney if Santorum and Newt are not splitting the vote.
    Steve Dennis recently posted..Did Warren Buffett make $154 million on Barack Obama’s foreclosure abuse settlement?My Profile

  • Teresa February 11, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    Great analysis RightHandMan! I suspect this may be the beginning of Santorum’s surge. More people are getting to hear of him, or know him better, and prefer him best as the anti-Romney alternative. I think his surge has come just at the right time.

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  • Silverfiddle February 12, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    It could indeed be a Santorum surge… We’ll see if his campaign can make good use of the money pouring in. The big question is can he survive the Romney attack machine?
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  • rjjrdq February 12, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    What is bothersome is that the guy nobody wants has the most delegates thus far.
    rjjrdq recently posted..GOP Targets Illegal Alien Tax CreditsMy Profile