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Right Turn
Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 03/15/2012

Why demographics and math are a problem for Santorum

Rick Santorum plainly has a problem. He may win in Alabama or Mississippi, but he’s losing ground in the GOP primary. His ability to make up lost ground becomes more compelling as the race heads to states with large metropolitan centers (e.g., New Jersey, New York, Illinois).

David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report agrees that the race “plays out poorly in states where metro areas dominate the statewide GOP vote.” Within the base, Santorum is still losing votes to Newt Gingrich, allowing Romney to win with fewer than 50 percent of the vote.

Wasserman doesn’t think religion is the key to the race. He argues, “Religion is the wrong spectrum through which to view this race; it’s culture and education.” Looking at the divide between upscale and downscale counties, he tells me: “Romney’s crushing in Whole Foods precincts, Santorum is sweeping Cracker Barrel counties. Higher-educated, high-income Republicans in metro areas (more of whom just happen to be Catholic) are Romney; lower-educated, downscale Republicans in small towns and rural areas (more of whom just happen to be evangelical) are Santorum.”

It is not as if this is a unique phenomenon or that it is a function of Romney’s shortcomings as a candidate. Wasserman says, “It’s exactly the same story as the Dem race in 2008, when [Barack] Obama had Whole Foods and Clinton had Cracker Barrel. Momentum didn’t matter and Hillary was winning primaries into June while clearly losing the race.”

Moreover, since Santorum’s strategy (although he said otherwise in his victory speech on Tuesday night) is to get to the convention, Newt Gingrich has every reason to stay in the race. Heck, if there is going to be a big ol’ fight in Tampa, why in the world would he cash in his chip now?

So on the race goes. Obama wrapped up the race on June 3, 2008. On June 5, 2012, the GOP has races in New Jersey, California, South Dakota, Montana and New Mexico. If he hasn’t already, Romney is very likely to go over the 1,144 delegate number on that date. Sometimes math and demographics really do control.

By  |  11:00 AM ET, 03/15/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Conservative movement

 
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