“After the returns came in, I asked Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley what he thought about Rich Beeson’s message. Sure, Santorum did well on Tuesday, but doesn’t Romney have the money and infrastructure to outdistance Santorum, and everyone else, in the long run?
“‘What an inspiring message,’ Gidley said sarcastically. ‘That is really inspiring. I can’t wait to put a bumper sticker on my truck that says MONEY-INFRASTRUCTURE 2012.’
“‘No one had more money and infrastructure than Hillary Clinton, and hope and change wiped her off the map,’ Gidley continued. ‘We’ll have money, and we’ll have infrastructure, but our nominee has to have a message that people can get behind and inspires people.'”
“The Rick Santorum boomlet presents an interesting conundrum for Mitt Romney: It neutralizes the section of the GOP establishment otherwise known as the conservative commentriat.
“While the center-right media intelligentsia were more than happy to help destroy the ‘unserious’ candidates such as Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich (and others), they generally like Santorum. There are likely many reasons for this…
“At a time when Catholics (arguably the swing vote in America) are coming under fire by the White House, Santorum’s intelligence, faith, and ability to communicate effectively seem to be especially appealing attributes. My guess is these factors have converged to make Santorum just as appealing to conservative intellectuals as he is to blue collar ‘rust belt’ workers.
“Romney must tread lightly when attacking Santorum. And he won’t be able to count on the help of his willing accomplices in the conservative media this time around.”
“It’s also worth thinking about the psychology behind last night’s vote. The turnout for Romney was pathetic, with particularly embarrassing results in Colorado and Minnesota, states where he prevailed over John McCain in 2008. But there’s a reason Romney would have won those states then and lost them now. In 2008, as in 2012, you had a frontrunner who, though he may face lingering opposition within the party, has achieved a strategic position of overwhelming superiority. People willing to accept Romney as the nominee didn’t have much incentive to turn out and vote on Tuesday; they understand that he’s basically a lock. The same held for McCain in 2008.
“The people with a greater incentive to vote on Tuesday were those with a high preference intensity, probably based around issues like abortion, or an extreme distaste for Romney. That vote was surely easier to capture, and Santorum did it. Sure, at some point, if a front runner looks strong enough, you’d expect holdouts to give up. But in this case, you’ve got a front runner who is an unusually bad fit for his party’s base, which keeps kicking at his shins. To put it another way: I’m not sure that Tuesday night told us anything we didn’t already know, either about Romney or the party.”
“The most generous interpretation of Tuesday night’s results is that Mr. Romney’s campaign failed to make much of an effort in the contests. He did not make many personal appearances in the states, nor did he run a significant amount of advertising. And his campaign worked to diminish expectations in the day or two before the voting — a practice that can annoy voters who are undecided in the race if they feel like they are being told their vote doesn’t matter.
“Why Mr. Romney’s campaign made these decisions is hard to say. One of the advantages of having a resource-rich campaign, as Mr. Romney does, is precisely that you are able to leave less to chance. Mr. Romney would have had the luxury of running commercials in Colorado or Minnesota, or of establishing a set of field offices in those states. Instead, his strategy was complacent. He gambled and paid the price, as Hillary Rodham Clinton did in the caucus states in 2008.
“Fortunately for Mr. Romney, none of his rivals are in the same ballpark as Mrs. Clinton’s opponent, Barack Obama, as measured by metrics like fundraising, organizational strength, or oratorical skill. But Mr. Romney is not a strong enough candidate that he can afford more nights as bad as Tuesday.”
“Romney has more money, more national experience, more consultants, more staff. Heck, he even has better hair. His super PAC outspent Santorum’s by a 40-to-1 margin. Forty to one. And yet Mitt Romney lost. He lost to a guy who lost his home state by 18 points the last time he was on the ballot there. There’s a technical term in political consulting for a performance like that: it’s called sucking. If Romney can’t beat Rick Santorum, he needs to find another party to run in.”
“‘In this race, I’m the only guy that hasn’t spent time in Washington,’ he told reporters on an airport tarmac in Atlanta. ‘And Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich, they are the very Republicans who acted like Democrats. And when Republicans act like Democrats, they lose.'”
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