A Look At Long-Shot Strategy By Long-Shot Santorum

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rick-santorumRick Santorum’s strategy for becoming the Republican presidential nominee comes down to this: prevent Mitt Romney from winning enough delegates to arrive at the GOP convention this summer with a mandate and persuade delegates to ignore election results in their states.

The hope is that delegates will go with Santorum as the more conservative option over front-runner Romney. But there’s a hitch: Newt Gingrich is refusing to quit the race.

It’s a long-shot gamble for a candidate who began as long shot and badly trails Romney in delegates leading to the August convention in Tampa, Fla., where Republicans will pick a challenger to President Barack Obama.

Adding to Santorum’s money and organizational challenges is the fact that Gingrich is splitting the conservative vote and is dismissing pressure by Santorum to drop out after losing this past week in Alabama and Mississippi.

Not that Santorum, who has defied expectations to become Romney’s chief challenger, seems daunted by the odds.

“You’ve been listening to math class and delegate math class instead of looking at the reality of the situation,” the former Pennsylvania senator told reporters in Biloxi last week. “It’s going to be very difficult for anyone to get to the number of delegates that is necessary to win with the majority at the convention.”

“This isn’t about math,” Santorum says. “This is about vision.”

So far, it’s all adding up for Romney.

He has captured 495 delegates, more than all of his rivals combined. Santorum stands at 252, Gingrich has 131 and Ron Paul is at 48, according to an Associated Press projection. That puts Romney on pace to win the required 1,144 delegates in June.

Romney’s advisers claim it would take an “act of God,” as one put it, for Santorum to take the lead in the delegate count. “If he is able to pull off a miracle so be it. He’ll be the nominee,” Romney said.

Santorum, whose Catholic faith is central to his campaign, was not amused. “I don’t know about him, but I believe in acts of God,” Santorum said.

One of his strategist’s, John Patrick Yob, put it another way in a recent memo that said the Romney team’s focus on the delegate count was an effort to distract from what Santorum’s campaign claims is trouble the front-runner faces in county, district and state conventions, where delegates are locked in.

Historically, delegates take their cues from the voters who participate in the primaries and caucuses.

Santorum sees himself as the preferred candidate of conservatives, given victories in the Deep South and elsewhere. He’s betting that he can buck tradition by getting delegates at the local level to thwart the will of the people and side with him over Romney.

Santorum hopes to ride into Tampa with enough support to deny Romney the nomination on the first ballot. Under this scenario, delegates would be free, in many cases, to back whomever they wanted.

Yob’s memo said Romney “will perform worse on subsequent ballots as grassroots conservative delegates decide to back the more conservative candidate. Subsequently, Santorum only needs to be relatively close on the initial ballot in order to win on a later ballot as Romney’s support erodes.”

But there are hurdles Santorum is overlooking.

It takes money and organization to twist arms at local, county and state conventions; Santorum lags in both. Also, Gingrich is still kicking and has a chunk of conservative support.

With Mississippi and Alabama showing that Santorum had defeated Gingrich on what essentially was the former Georgia lawmaker’s home turf, Santorum said it was time for conservatives to unite against defeat Romney. Translation: Gingrich should step aside.

About half the states still await the chance to vote. Santorum wants to make the remaining contests a head-to-head match against the former Massachusetts governor, winning beyond conservative areas in hopes of denying Romney the clinching number.

Santorum is competing Tuesday in Illinois, friendly Romney territory, but also looking ahead to Louisiana’s primary next Saturday. Santorum is trying to make the case that there isn’t much daylight between Romney and Obama, and that the Democratic incumbent has the edge in that general election matchup.

“People ask me why I am the best candidate to run against Barack Obama. I feel like in many respects like I am running against Barack Obama here in this primary because Mitt Romney has the same positions as Barack Obama in this primary,” Santorum said Saturday in Effingham, Ill.

Santorum hopes to benefit from the deep skepticism among social conservatives about Romney, a Mormon who has struggled with this group of voters since his failed 2008 bid.

According to exit polls conducted in Alabama and Mississippi, only about 1 in 5 very conservative voters backed Romney, while 7 in 10 said his positions on the issues were not conservative enough.

Romney has won among “very conservative” voters in just four states where exit or entrance polls were conducted: Two where he’s lived (Massachusetts and New Hampshire) and two with a significant Mormon population (Nevada and Arizona).

Still, it takes money and manpower to seize the moment. Santorum is raising money, but far less than Romney, and he has virtually no organization.

In the end, Santorum is counting on the GOP base’s apparent demand for ideological purity in the nominee to trump time-

{The Associated Press/Matzav.com Newscenter}

9 COMMENTS

  1. It’s probably better for Santoram if Newt stays in the race. That’s because Newt is not only splitting the conservative vote, he is also taking votes away from Romney. Many conservatives would vote for Romney if they thought he was inevitable. Third place finishes for Romney are only possible as long as Newt’s around. This prevent Romney from looking inevitable..
    Also, if Santoram was the only conservative still remaining the media and Romney would delgitimize him. With Newt still around they are holding back out of fear that he will make a comeback and has a much stronger resume than Santoram.

  2. It’s probably better for Santoram if Newt stays in the race. That’s because Newt is not only splitting the conservative vote, he is also taking votes away from Romney. Many conservatives would vote for Romney if they thought he was inevitable. Third place finishes for Romney are only possible as long as Newt’s around. These prevent Romney from looking inevitable..
    Also, if Santoram was the only conservative still remaining the media and Romney would delgitimize him. With Newt still around they are holding back out of fear that he will make a comeback since he has a much stronger resume and is a better debater than Santoram.

  3. It aint over till it’s over! The last I checked this was still a free Country & every citizen has a right to vote. Just because one candidate is leading, so therefore what? Everyone just go home & forget it? Where does this defeatist additute in the Republican Party come from? Santorum & Gingrich combined have much more of the actual vote. It’s the corrupt process called “delegates” which is unconstitutional! I’m waiting for the primary to come here to NY where I can proudly vote for the only true Conservative with Torah Values, Rick Santorum!

  4. With our minds on national security and foreign policy, I can’t help wondering how strong a president Santorum would be, he seems too young and inexperienced, but it’s all in yad Hashem anyway.

  5. #3, delegates are unconstitutional? That’s funny, because at the time when the constitution was written, all voting was done through electoral delegates.
    And besides, Romney is the single candidate with the most popular votes as well. Who says you can just add Santorum’s and Gingrich’s votes together? That’s not how the system works. But if Santorum or Gingrich feel that either of them is better than Romney, then let one of them drop out and let the other win (according to your assumption). It’s not the sytem’s fault that Gingrich is being so pompous. Anyway, polls show that Romney and Santorum would split Gingrich’s vote, so just slow down.

  6. (UK) One morning-after question political observers are facing: Is it time to break up with our favorite pollsters? It’s not us – it’s them. Yesterday we published a chart showing the leading poll projections for the Mississippi and Alabama races. Here it is: Table:

    HuffPollster
    No one saw Santorum’s wins coming. (He won Alabama 35-29; he won Mississippi 33-31.) In defense of the pollsters, these numbers were offered with caveats about the historical unreliability of polling in the region. But if the pollsters can’t get reliable numbers, why offer them?

    Maybe you still have some patience left for the pollsters, maybe you see their failure last night as an anamoly, or maybe you simply cannot get that monkey off your back. In that case you will want to see the new poll from the Pew Research Center tracking an Obama-Romney general election matchup. You may remember that the New York Times poll published yesterday of the same matchup had Obama up by 3. This morning, according to Pew, the president is up… by 12. FWIW
    A Pew Research Center poll released on March 14 shows Barack Obama opening up a lead over Mitt Romney in a general election.
    (h/t: TPM)

    11.57am: Here’s where the candidates are today: The also rans (Gingrich and Paul) are in Illinois. Santorum is taking his message of conservative credibility to Puerto Rico. Playing against type, Mitt Romney is hosting a fundraiser at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. There is a protest outside the hotel.

    At a poorly attended protest outside Romney fundraiser at the Waldorf astoria. Some occupiers but mainly a union presence

    12.14pm: How aggressively should the Romney camp pursue its argument about delegate math? Some see it as a sure thing:

    Others point out that it’s political kryptonite:

    In its attempt to portray the primary fight as a salubrious exercise the Romney camp has evoked the 2008 race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in which Obama did not cinch the thing, “mathematically” (does tallying delegates even count as “math”?), until early June. It took Obama until June, says team Romney, and look how strong he was at the end.

    Among the major flaws with this comparison is that the rival in 2008, Clinton, with the party establishment and a personal political dynasty behind her, was much more powerful than Santorum. There was a reason it took until June to beat her. And: 2008 saw a groundswell of political interest in which an unprecedented number of Americans who had never cared for politics began filling stadiums in support of a leader who had history written all over him in capital letters. Not so this year?

    But there is one lesson the 2008 Obama campaign may have for Romney, and that is, Don’t make a big deal about the numbers. The numbers looked “inevitable” for Obama months before he cinched it. His supporters loudly made the case that Clinton’s campaign was quixotic. But the Obama camp recognized that as political arguments go, “Math proves I win” was a non-starter. It’s the equivalent of threatening to take your ball and go home.

    12.24pm: BuzzFeed’s Rosie Gray is covering the anti-Romney protest outside the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, where the candidate is currently lining his pockets with bills of dont-see-that-much denominations.

  7. To Comment #3. from Yogi Bera I say:

    “TRIPLE DITTOES!!!!!!!”

    The current setup of the primary process is quite stilted — for both parties. By the time the primaries reach quite a number of “latter” states, most of the candidates have already dropped out! There is thus usually only one left, who is obviously the one who will be the nominee. The people in these latter states thus never had any choice and never had any say in the choice of the nominee.

    Yes, Mitt Romney does have many excellent points. However, he himself will readily admit that Rick Santorum is much, much stronger on the religious/moral/social issues and thus much, much closer to the values of our Torah HaKdosha. Thus our vote certainly needs to be for Mr. Santorum.

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