Thursday, April 12, 2012

Post Post-Mortem

OK, I find that I'm not quite finished with the whole business of Rick Santorum leaving the presidential nomination race. David Horsey has raised some issues which I thought worth considering.

Horsey looks back at the whole nomination process this election cycle and notes just why Santorum didn't succeed and just why he might next time around.

Santorum is not too extreme for today's Republicans. In a party that is at least 50% composed of Glenn Beck fans, gay-bashers, paranoid conspiracy theorists, Obama birth certificate fantasizers, antiabortion zealots, take-back-America culture warriors and get-religion-into-government theocrats, he is mainstream.

His run in 2012 failed for other reasons ...

Among those reasons listed were the lack of money and adequate campaign staff and organization, the splitting of the social conservative vote with Newt Gingrich remaining in the race, and some weird twists of fate such as the initial declaration of Romney as the winner of Iowa at a time when Santorum was beginning to pick up some steam (Santorum was ultimately declared the winner).

But here is what is perhaps the key reason Santorum didn't make it:

• Romney was willing to say and do anything to win. He allowed his campaign and "super PAC" to carpet the airwaves with ads that made all manner of nasty and bogus allegations against Santorum. Meanwhile, he stretched himself to adopt a newly-minted set of right-wing beliefs to undercut Santorum’s claim to being the only true conservative in the race.

Together, all these factors doomed Santorum’s campaign. Arguably, it might have helped if he had stuck to his appealing, working class economic pitch that contrasted with Romney’s Wall Street insider persona, instead of harping on abortion, birth control and the evils of secularism. Still, being a culture warrior helped him more than it hurt him among Republican voters.
[Emphasis added]

Now, I'm not so sure that 50% of Republican voters are members of the Religious Reich. I agree that more of them turned out to vote than the fiscal conservatives and the corporatists, probably because Romney's credentials on all issues are suspect. He has used the etch-a-sketch too often to be trusted by those who insist on the certainty of government largess. That's probably why the turn-outs during the entire primary season to date were so low.

That said, however, I think Horsey's conclusion is a sound one:

At 53, Santorum is a young man, politically speaking. If Romney loses in November, Santorum could have the inside track for the nomination next time. In 1980, 1988, 2000, 2008 and now this year, the Republican winner turned out to be the man who came in second in the previous round of contested primaries.

So, in the event of an Obama victory, look for Santorum to spend the next couple of years raising money, getting better organized and finding every opportunity to tell his fellow red-blooded conservatives that 2016 will be the year to finally follow their hearts and nominate one of their own.

It could happen.

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Anonymous Marcellina said...

It could happen, but I don't think Santorum has it in him to change his tune. Harping on abortion, birth control and the evils of secularism is basically what he's always been all about, and I don't think he's even capable of suppressing that in favor of more economic topics.

Plus we have seen (from the "Bullshit" melt-down) that he takes reporters' questions personally — if they bring up his old themes, he'll melt down again.

5:25 AM  
Anonymous con-cerned said...

I think his BS meltdown was a pre-planned attack on the lamestream media, ala Newt at the debate. That the reporter was from the hated new York Times just made it sweeter.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I think the terrain gets more difficult for the GOP, and has been since 2000. Once the world did not end at the millenium, all of the End of the World stuff started to fade. Only the apocalyptic nature of the destruction of the World Trade Center revived it... and then, gradually that started to fade.

Millenia don't come around all that often, so things like gay marriage are getting harder and harder to mobilize people around. The attempts to widen the abortion wars to contraception backfired.

Since the Republican Party is based on xenophobia, culture wars, and economic anxiety, a collapse in religious right mobilization could be fatal. I'm not saying it will happen, only that the terrain is not in their favor. Democrats, of course, are brilliant at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

7:57 PM  

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