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Right Turn
Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 04/05/2012

Ten reasons Santorum could lose Pennsylvania

Rick Santorum insists, for now, in going forward to compete in Pennsylvania on April 24. He understandably wants to wipe out the memory of his humiliating loss in 2006. But it could happen again, for 10 reasons:

1. His housing scandal. Home state voters may recall the scandal concerning his residence. In 2004, his hometown paper reported: “U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said last night that he and his wife, Karen, are withdrawing their five school-age children from the Western Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. Santorum has come under criticism from officials in Penn Hills, where he owns a house, who say the school district should not have to foot the $38,000 annual bill to educate his children.The Santorums do not live in the district full time and spend most of their time in Leesburg, Va., outside Washington, D.C.”

2. The Philly suburbs. Mitt Romney has consistently won in affluent suburbs of metropolitan areas. In his 2006 senatorial reelection race, Santorum lost the suburban vote 57 to 43 percent to Robert Casey Jr. He lost the Philly suburbs by 20 points.

3. His personality. Pennsylvania voters by 2006 had soured on Santorum’s aggressive, belligerent style of politics. It is not clear whether they have entirely forgotten or forgiven. His insistence on remaining in the race may rekindle those memories.

4. He lives in Northern Virginia. He may wax lyrical about his grandfather the miner, but Santorum hasn’t lived in Pennsylvania for some time. Since 2007, he’s lived in a house in Great Falls, Va., purchased via a trust and paid for by a wealthy supporter.

5. Pat Toomey. Conservative Pennsylvanians remember well that Santorum backed Sen. Arlen Specter over conservative Pat Toomey in 2004. Specter cast the deciding vote for Obamacare. Toomey is now in the Senate, with a decidedly different voting record than Specter acquired.

6. Arlen Specter. Santorum backed him for president in 1996 and has defended his tenure on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter is intensely disliked by the conservative base in Pennsylvania.

7. Wisconsin. Romney’s win there and in two other contests essentially locked this race up. Republican voters may have had enough and be increasingly anxious to move on to the general election.

8. President Obama. He is now attacking Romney by name, setting the battle lines for the general election. The race moves to Obama vs. Romney, the base is likely to rally to Romney’s side.

9.Contraception. As it did in 2006, Santorum’s jaunt into extreme social issues in the primary hurts him with the diverse Pennsylvania electorate. Even within his party, his position on everything from working women to contraception to public schools has been a bridge too far.

10. Catholics. In 2006 Santorum lost the Catholic vote in the general election 42 to 58 percent. In Wisconsin, he lost the Catholic vote to Romney 35 to 48 percent.

Romney, in all likelihood, will win the other April 24 contests and pick up a chunk of delegates in Pennsylvania. He doesn’t need to win in that state, any more than Santorum needed to win in Massachusetts. The risk is all Santorum’s: He’s not going to be the nominee, but he could be beaten once again in the Keystone State, thereby sending him packing permanently from GOP politics. Critics and potential competitors in 2016 or 2020 may be rooting for just such a result. It’s not clear whether there is anyone around him who could save him from himself. But stay tuned.

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 04/05/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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