The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

If Rick Santorum Wins Kansas …

Posted on | March 9, 2012 | 24 Comments

. . . it will add to the valuable perception of renewed momentum he got from his strong showing on Super Tuesday, when he won primaries in Tennessee and Oklahoma, as well as the North Dakota caucuses, came within 1% of Romney in Ohio, and ran a strong second nearly everywhere else. And it looks like Santorum is the overwhelming favorite to win Saturday’s Kansas caucuses:

Long-shot Newt Gingrich, weak outside the Deep South, dropped plans for a six-stop swing Friday and Saturday through Kansas. The former U.S. House speaker from Georgia is gambling a couple more southern states — Alabama and Mississippi — can sustain his quest for the nomination.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who remains front runner for the GOP presidential nomination, is uninterested in the Kansas caucus. He won’t personally chase Kansas’ 40 delegates to the GOP national convention.

The key thing here is that Gingrich is not campaigning in Kansas because he’s been forced to fight in Alabama and Mississippi merely to maintain whatever semblance of “viability” Newt’s got left, which frankly isn’t too damned much.

So if Santorum wins Saturday, both Mitt and Newt will try to pretend it’s irrelevant, but a Kansas win would add weight to the perception of Santorum as the conservative alternative — “a two-man race” with Romney, as he says — and thus should boost his numbers in Alabama and Mississippi by a few points. I say all that as a precursor to talking about the polls, which must be taken with a grain of salt.

Unlike Iowa or New Hampshire, where you had lots and lots of polls to compare and try to spot the trend, there have been very few polls in Alabama or Mississippi. It is therefore necessary to say that we can’t tell if the Rasmussen poll of Alabama, showing a virtual three-way tie between Newt, Mitt and Rick, will bear much resemblance to the vote totals on Tuesday. And I’m highly skeptical of the Rasmussen poll of Mississippi, showing Mitt with an eight-point lead.

Remember this: Polls are a lagging indicator in politics. This is why it helps to have a lot of polls bunched up together in a sequence, so you can attempt to plot a trend and extrapolate forward. We don’t have that in this case, so we are in some sense “blind” to what’s happening in Alabama and Mississippi. (I haven’t seen any polls from Kansas at all, but the fact that Newt and Mitt aren’t campaigning there is an obvious sign that Santorum should do well.)

We are merely speculating, therefore, to consider this scenario: Santorum wins Kansas, bumping up his numbers in Alabama and Mississippi, where it is entrely possible that Newt could finish third — and that, my friends, would be the end of Gingrich. It would be bad enough for Newt, who has staked his entire campaign on doing well in the South, to finish second in either of Tuesday’s primaries. But a third-place finish on “home turf” would be the kind of humiliation the Gingrich campaign could not survive.

My buddy Quin Hillyer lives in Mobile and has been covering Santorum’s campaign down there and quotes Alabama Policy Institute president Gary Palmer about Santorum’s speech there: “He looked presidential — he really connected with the audience.” Quin also relates how Santorum stopped a speech to help a lady who fainted.

Santorum’s creating a good impression in Alabama, it seems, and so if we can take the speculation a step further — not a prediction, mind you — think about this not-too-extreme possibility: Santorum wins Kansas on Saturday, then wins Alabama and/or Mississippi on Tuesday, and Gingrich finishes third in all three states. The narrative then would be?

Santorum the Newt-Killer Emerges
as Last Remaining Conservative
Opponent to Moderate Mitt Romney

Just speculation, as I say, but you can see why it may have been too early for Mitt’s boys to say only an “act of God” could stop Romney from winning the Republican nomination. And it looks like Mitt may be having some money troubles.

UPDATE: Press release from the Santorum campaign:

KANSAS CITY ROYALS ALL-STAR MIKE SWEENEY
ENDORSES SANTORUM FOR PRESIDENT

Verona, PA – The Rick Santorum for President campaign is proud to announce that it has received the endorsement of All-Star Major Leaguer Mike Sweeney.
Mike Sweeney said: “I take great pride in the success I’ve had on the baseball field, but even greater satisfaction in knowing that I have spent my entire life embracing Godly principles and instilling these values into the everyday lives of my children, family and friends. After personally getting to know Rick Santorum, I am absolutely convinced that he is the only candidate in the 2012 Presidential race that shares these same core values! The moral decline of our great country must stop now and this can only be achieved through real leadership and real solutions. I believe Senator Santorum has the wisdom, passion and vision to bring our country back to global excellence with those core Christian beliefs that our Founding Fathers envisioned, including protecting the rights of the unborn child, in mind. This election is the most important in my lifetime and as a father, husband, and American I am proud to play on Rick Santorum’s team!”
Mike Sweeney was a five-time Major League All-Star, with a career batting average of .297 and over 200 homeruns. Sweeney played for four Major League teams, including over a decade with the Kansas City Royals. Sweeney is very active in the Kansas City community, supporting various organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Kansas City and Children’s Mercy Hospital. Sweeney is also the advisory chairman of the Catholic Athletes for Christ and a spokesman for Life Teen, the largest Catholic youth ministry program in the United States.

Over at the New York Times, Nate Silver is counting delegates and projects Mitt Romney getting to barely 50 percent — 1,162, or 18 more delegates than the nominating majority. While I can’t quibble with Silver’s math, the problem is that what he has done is an extrapolation of current trends, which is OK so far as it goes, except that no mere extrapolation can predict future evenst.

Go back to early December, when Santorum was in sixth place in the Iowa polls. No expert at that time would have given two cents for Santorum’s chances of winning Iowa, much less would the experts have predicted that Santorum would be Romney’s strongest remaining rival after Super Tuesday.

What happened? Events happened, events that no one expected in early December. And while no one can deny that, as the situation stands now, Romney is the near-prohibitive favorite to be the nominee in Tampa in August, we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, or the day after that, much less what’s going to happen between now and the Texas primary on May 29.

Oh: Texas was originally scheduled to vote on April 3, but a lawsuit about re-districting pushed it back to late May — another one of those “events” no one predicted three months ago. It always pays to be careful about predictions in politics, because events happen.

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Comments

  • K-Bob

    I’d happily vote for Rick Santorum.

    But Newt’s simply not out of it yet. He’s got good numbers in some upcoming contests, and he has that “bound” vs “unbound” thingy still keeping him alive, along with enough money to stay in the race.  Like it or not, we’ll have to see what’s what after the Alamaba and Mississippipiipissii votes are in.

  • http://twitter.com/sdo1 Steve in TN

    So the spin never stops here.  I’m disappointed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Stan25 Stan Brewer

    The reason the pollsters aren’t doing Alabama or Kansas, it that thy are in areas that are considered out of the mainstream. Just as with Alaska and other low population states, the media do not want to be stuck in some podunk town with only one restaurant where everyone goes to eat. They don’t want to rub shoulders with the hairy unwashed hicks.   

  • http://www.leftbankofthecharles.com/ Charles

    Santorum needs to be on the next plane to Alabama. It’s apparent now that Gingrich’s strategy is to march across the South from sea to sea. First South Carolina, then Georgia. Next Alabama and Missisippi. Then Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. Finally New Mexico and California.

    Santorum should have fought Gingrich for Georgia. Now he needs to get in front of him in Alabama and lead the march to the sea himself. Romney is making some small show to stop the Gingrich march in Mississippi, but Santorum can’t count on that.

  • Asian_chic

    He’s already there. As for Newt and Flippers, they both have ads against Santorum. He is fighting both fronts but I do hope that for the sake of this country, he’ll come out on top.

  • Steve

    >”a Kansas win would add weight to the perception of Santorum as the conservative alternative”

    Not sure why people keep repeating this nonsense. Exit polls consistently show that Santorum loses to Romney among Republicans, and closes the gap via his support from Democrats and independents in open primaries.

    >”Santorum the Newt-Killer Emerges as Last Remaining Conservative Opponent to Moderate Mitt Romney”

    Except that, if you actually look at the candidates and their positions, the notion that Romney is a “moderate” to Santorums “conservative” is ludicrous.

    You may be writing ruthlessly, but you cannot actually believe what you write to be the truth.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

     Except modern polling isn’t done in person or in state; it’s all done from the pollster’s home offices, usually robo-calls at least to filter those willing to respond.

    They aren’t polling Kansas, Alabama, or Mississippi as much as some of the earlier states because 1) they haven’t been regarded as important (until now with the Santorum v Gingrich showdown looming) and 2) nobody was paying them to do those states and they saw no benefit in doing them for free.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    The idea that everything may change overnight is mostly wishful thinking.  The way these things work, leading candidates generally have to self-destruct, and Romney seems unlikely to do that. 

    Getting Gingrich out by embarrassing him in Alabama and Mississippi may be Santorum’s only chance.  But it is a long shot at best – Romney has a strong edge in most of the remaining winner-take-all contests, and the order of upcoming events should also see him pad his lead in the coming weeks. 

    Santorum has done himself no favor by his failures to qualify delegate slates and for ballots.  Indiana gave him a break, but he cost himself delegates in Ohio and potentially in Virginia and Illinois as well.  It’s not the sort of competence that inspires confidence, especially since he’s never run anything bigger than his Senate staff.

    History doesn’t favor upsets, either.  When was the last time a candidate trailing in delegates after Super Tuesday ended up winning a major party nomination?

  • newrouter

    Kyle Ruckert, Sen. David Vitter’s longtime chief of staff and political adviser, has signed on with the Santorum campaign.
    Ruckert, who managed Vitter’s 2010 reelection effort, will direct Santorum’s Louisiana operation.
    The Bayou State will hold its primary on March 24.”http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/293105/santorum-hires-vitter-aide-robert-costa

  • Confutus

    The idea that Santorum is the favorite in Kansas seems drawn from two things: that Huckabee did well four years ago, and Santorum has been doing well in the south generally.

    Four years ago, there was a lot of anti-Mormon paranoia about Romney’s campaign, which Huckabee tried to play on.  Romney took a lot of flak in the press for not talking about his Mormonism in his speech on religous freedom,  but now it looks like that was the smart thing to do. He has avoided the appearance of sectarian preaching from the political stump and the scandalous hypocrisy of  some noted televangelists.  It does not seem that his religion has been a big issue this time around, although in the Bible Belt, I’m not sure it can be discounted entirely.

    Romney came in a closer second behind Gingrich in Alabama and Santorum in Tennesse and Oklahoma than has gotten much play in the commentary I’ve seen.  On that basis, I’d still give the edge to Santorum, but not an overwhelming one.  But I’m biased.

    I don’t think Gingrich will win either Alabama or Mississippi, once voters have had time to absorb a string of third place and fourth place finishes. But I’m biased there, too.

  • Confutus

    Gingrich in Georgia, I meant.

  • Multimedia Group

    Steve says: “Not sure why people keep repeating this nonsense. ”

    So your argument, when Santorum beats Romney in Kansas (and Alabama, and Mississippi, and Texas, etc.) will be that the Republicans tried darn hard to get out to vote for Romney but the dang Democrats came out in even bigger numbers for Santorum?

    :rollseyes:

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

     I believe he is speaking about Michigan and Ohio.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/EU5DQWQTTHTPO4A4ZYSL3AAV2U Adjoran

    Gingrich probably won’t get out – he was in it in the first place to hype book sales and speaking fees and maybe consulting work, so the longer he stays in the more that happens.  And having surged to the front twice, his ego won’t let him go.  Also, he’s seen he can score a few delegates here and there without bothering to campaign in those states, so he can collect a few and spend his time replenishing the campaign treasury to keep going.

    But Santorum can marginalize him with a sweep of Kansas, Alabama, and Mississippi.  It would be hard to argue he wasn’t the only viable alternative to Romney after that.

    OTOH, the polls are tight enough in both Alabama and Mississippi that anything could happen, and a majority of likely voters in both the latest polls put beating Obama as their top priority in choosing a candidate.  In past primaries, that sub-group has gone to Romney in almost every state.

    But if Santorum is smart and promotes this video, he has a chance.  Great singers and song, good production, not a tattoo in sight – they should lose Glen Beck on the bass, though:  http://youtu.be/U7pv7sO5Gng

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  • SDN

    Well, the truth is that you Mittbots can’t accept the fact that running the architect of the healthcare plan that cost Democrats the House ain’t exactly Winning! either.

  • Steve

     That’s so incoherent that I’m not even sure what you’re trying to say.

    There is one reason why Romney has not already locked up the nomination this year – the national GOP  (which is supposedly the Evil RINO Empire according to the moonbats on this site) changed the primary rules to make it more difficult for any candidate to clinch the nomination quickly.

    In your idiotic mind this shows that Romney “ain’t winning”, when all it shows is that the current primary rules are operating as intended.

    I notice you just completely ignored the Inconvenient Truth that if we had closed primaries, open only to Republicans, Santorum would be toast.

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    If Rick Santorum does not win Kansas, will the title of your post-caucuii report be entitled: What’s The Matter With Kansas?

  • http://thecampofthesaints.org Bob Belvedere

    Agreed.  The presence of Beck was the only sour note.

  • SDN

     Incoherent? Only to a libtard.

    Did Mitt Romney come up with a socialized medicine scheme while governor of Massachusetts? Why, Yes He Did!

    Did the advisers who helped him go to Team Obama? Why, Yes They Did!

    Did they use Romneycare as the basis for Obamacare? Why, Yes They Did!

    Did Romney write articles and opeds, such as the one in USA Today in 09, claiming that Obamacare drew heavily on Romneycare for philosophy and mechanisms? Why, Yes He Did!

    Did Romney keep on defending Romneycare as an excellent idea even though its’ bankrupting Massachusetts? Why, Yes He Did!

    Can you Mittbots get Obama’s philosophies and policies continued no matter the melanin quotient of the next Obama presidency? Yes, You Can!

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