These polling responses clearly lay out the upcoming challenges for Messrs. Romney and Santorum. Mr. Romney needs to convince Republican primary voters that he can be trusted with crucial responsibilities such as judicial nominations. Mr. Santorum, on the other hand, needs to convince voters that he can appeal to independents and win a general election campaign against President Obama.
Social conservatives deeply distrust President Obama, whom they perceive to be the most liberal and socially radical president ever. They strongly believe that another four years of his policies will permanently harm the cultural, economic and social fabric of our country. They believe President Obama when he says he wants to “remake” the nation into what they perceive to be a European-style entitlement society, while they desperately want to restore America as an opportunity society.
For these reasons, evangelicals are certainly concerned about “electability.” Many are following the late William F. Buckley’s famous dictum that he’s “for the most conservative candidate who can be elected.” Hence the importance of Mr. Santorum demonstrating his ultimate electability not only to the establishment but to evangelicals as well.