Readers were split on who among the GOP candidates is most electable. A large number of commenters bashed Rick Santorum, including Yahright, who argues:

Obama beats Santorum. Obama-Romney is a toss-up. The media will portray Santorum as the second coming of Jerry Falwell. Santorum will be forced to spend too much time on the defensive explaining himself and/or too much time seeing himself both subtly mocked and outwardly caricatured.

ChrisFord1 is even more harsh: “As for Santorum, he is again shaping up as a moralizing scold of those he sees as less Christian and less worshipful of ‘precious life than he.’ . . . That will play out pretty bad with women, moderates, independents.” Mickey Kovars agrees: “If Santorum is nominated, he will be murdered by a firestorm of negativity over his social views. He’ll never get out of the bunker to put forth his own campaign. He’ll also bring down a host of Republican congressional candidates with him. And we will get four more years of Obama, Reid and Pelosi.”

Support for Santorum was limited. But a significant number of readers think neither Santorum nor Mitt Romney can beat the president. Whatmeregister writes:

The question is moot, since the real question to ask is which person is MOST electable, and the answer is clearly Barack Obama. GOP voters have demonstrated little enthusiasm for the current field of candidates.

Bannedagain5446 agrees: “Neither [is electable], the improving economy has stolen Romney’s thunder, and the only Presidential election that Santorum could win would be 1916 (the last one before women voted.) A brokered convention with Paul Ryan is the GOP’s only hope.”

Well, I’m not as glum as many about the GOP’s prospects. The economy is limping, President Obama has abdicated responsibility on the debt and we are headed for the prospect of war (by the United States or Israel) or accepting a radical jihadist state as a nuclear power. That said, you can’t beat something with nothing.

It’s no secret that I think Santorum’s extremism on social issues will put off all but hardcore conservatives and that both his pernicious meddling in family life and his pro-manufacturing industrial policy will turn off libertarians. But it remains an open question whether Romney can lay out a center-right agenda and explain it in a compelling fashion to average voters. Arguably, this is one of the biggest weeks of the campaign for Romney with a debate on Wednesday and a big speech in Friday. We may know by the end of the week whether the GOP has at least one plausible nominee.