It’s Don Meredith Time in the GOP; The Party’s Over.
Governor Romney won the Republican nomination in Illinois last Tuesday. His 12 point margin over Senator Santorum started the bandwagon. Governor Jeb Bush endorsed him, thus bringing the Bush family and its political structure behind him. Senator Jim DiMint, the conservative’s favorite, all but endorsed him.
1144 delegates are needed for the nomination. The Governor now claims 558. He’s halfway there, but with all the momentum. His organization has steadily rolled up the delegates, even when not winning a primary or caucus. Organization and fundraising trump disorganized campaigns.
Senator Santorum won 11 states so far, but the Governor has won 21 and more delegates than the others combined.
Senator Santorum won Louisiana with 49% of the vote, and he may win Pennsylvania, his home state, but then it’s over. He should win and then gracefully withdraw.
He got a raw deal during the campaign. The Senator actually won Iowa, but the preliminary results gave it to the Governor, who then won his neighboring state of New Hampshire. Romney then in essence claimed George H. W. Bush’s “Big Mo.”
The Senator didn’t help himself last Thursday when he got so carried away with “Etch a Sketch,” that he said “We might as well stay with what we have,” Obama, if the alternative is Romney. This statement is not a dispute over religious and social values. It strikes at the heart of Republican voters this year. They want President Obama out, and will vote for any Republican nominee, perhaps even Congressman Ron Paul. The Senator later walked back his remarks, but the damage was done.
Senator Santorum would have had a fighting chance for the nomination if Speaker Newt Gingrich had followed the lead of Governors Rick Perry and John Huntsman, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, and Herman Cain in facing the political realities and withdrawing. But the Speaker remained, running an increasingly quixotic campaign.
Senator Santorum lost Illinois. He also lost two other industrial states of the Midwest, Michigan and Ohio, to the Governor. At one point he was leading in the polls in these three states. He peaked too early, often letting social issues trump economics.
The odds are that he will now lose Wisconsin as well, no matter how many breweries he campaigns at. His out of context quip that the nation’s “unemployment rate doesn’t matter to me” doesn’t meet the economic concerns of the electorate.
The Senator’s appeal is to religious conservatives and blue collar, lunch bucket voters. And yet they, and an increasing number of Tea Partiers, are voting for Romney. The blue collars are voting for the plutocrat.
This long primary season with scores of debates and millions in negative ads has introduced the Republican candidates to the electorate. The voters have sized up the 4 remaining candidates.
Republicans know that Romney Care is a negative, and that Governor Romney is a moderate Republican, but they are willing to trust him on economic issues. This election is not on social issues. When times are bad, as they are now, voters vote economics and pocket book.
They also recognize that the Governor, of all the Republican candidates, has the fire in his belly; he’s been campaigning for 6 years. He has built up a disciplined organization, which will be necessary to defeat President Obama, the consummate community organizer. Congressman Paul doesn’t really expect to be nominated and both Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich have run undisciplined, seat of the pants campaigns.
Governor Romney is a wooden public speaker, and does not connect with voters. Charisma won the Presidency 4 years ago; look where it got us. Republican voters often choose the non-charismatic, but solid candidate, Dole, McCain. George H.W. Bush.