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Right Turn
Posted at 12:56 PM ET, 03/12/2012

Santorum can’t win, he can only wound

Apropos of my “can’t anyone around here run a campaign” post, Rick Santorum seems to be anxious to reveal just how impossible it is to win a majority of the delegates. In a memo from strategist John Yob, we learn, “Mitt Romney must have a majority on the first ballot in order to win the nomination because he 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.” Translation: We can’t win a majority of the delegates, so only by perpetuating this race as long as possible and hoping delegates defect in subsequent round of voting can Santorum win. Not exactly a morale booster for donors and supporters, is it? (It is hard to understand which is dumber — the memo itself or releasing it to the public.)

The Associated Press puts it more bluntly: “Rick Santorum predicted Monday that he would get the Republican presidential nomination if the race remains undecided by the time the party holds its nominating convention this summer. Though former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has a commanding lead in the crucial race for delegates, Santorum said the race is about to enter a period where he will face fewer disadvantages. To date, Romney has outspent Santorum and had stronger campaign organizations working for him.”

Umm, but if the race is going national to expensive states (California, New York, New Jersey), isn’t Romney’s position going to get stronger?

Consider the remaining winner-take-all states: Wisconsin, Maryland, New Jersey, California, Delaware, Utah and D.C. It’s virtually inconceivable that Santorum can win any of them. That is a total of 357 delegates right there, which would boost Romney’s total to more than 800 delegates. That still leaves states with proportional contests in which Romney is very likely to win ( Illinois, New York, Indiana and Connecticut). I would even include Pennsylvania. That’s a pool of 266 more delegates. And of course, Romney is still picking up delegates in states he’s losing, although states that were once thought to be losers are now dead heats (e.g., Alabama and Mississippi).

So what is the purpose of the Santorum “strategy”? In a nutshell, it is, “We no longer need to get to 1,144 delegates, because after we get thumped in the elected contests, the majority of delegates at the convention will come over to us.” Really this is nonsense. Moreover, it suggests that, like Newt Gingrich, Santorum has become mired in Romney antagonism. When you campaign against math and logic and tout your lack of money as a reason for voters to flock to you, you should take a breather and reflect on what you are doing.

Right now, Santorum seems to have given up on winning and is simply trying to inflict the most casualties on the eventual nominee. This is what happens, unfortunately, when you operate in a small bubble of longtime pals who can’t bear to level with you.

By  |  12:56 PM ET, 03/12/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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