Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Super Tuesday Surprises – That’s Why We Have Elections – The Surprises Just Keep Coming

Why The Dismal Political Economist Was Not Quite Right

In the aftermath of Super Tuesday it appears that suddenly primaries in Mississippi and Alabama next week will be important.  Mr. Gingrich, buoyed by his win in his home state (his only home state other than Virginia which is also his home state) will compete strongly in those states,  Mr. Santorum, buoyed by his larger than expected win in Tennessee will compete strongly in those states and Mr. Romney will have to compete in order to try to stem the momentum that is moving away from him. 

The biggest win for Mr. Romney on  Super Tuesday was the big victory by Newt Gingrich in Georgia.  This allows Mr. Gingrich to stay in the race and siphon votes away from Mr. Santorum.  No one is certain Mr. Romney could survive a one-on-one contest with Mr. Santorum.  Politics is strange.  By staying in the race Mr. Gingrich helps Mr. Romney whom he dislikes intensely.  But Mr. Gingrich is and always was blind to logic. 

The biggest news of Super Tuesday is that the results did not perform according to expectations.  When that happens the news is magnified. So when everyone expected the Tennessee race to be close, the fact that it was not close boosts Mr. Santorum by a much greater amount than his win would normally produce.  The tossup in Tennessee that was not a tossup means Mr. Santorum actually developed appeal among voters in that state as the race moved forward, which is somewhat of an inexplicable result.  Mr. Romney lost appeal amongst voters, which is entirely understandable.

The major news of course is Ohio.  Mr. Santorum's close loss was a win against the trend that was moving to Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney's close win in Ohio raises two questions.  The first is whether or not Mr. Romney can win significant victories outside his natural base.  He can, he won in Florida but that is very old news.  Mr. Romney’s win in Virginia is tainted by the fact that the opposition was not allowed.  So Mr. Romney wins Ohio, his home state (of the momment) of Massachusetts, his neighboring state of Vermont along with Virginia and some minor contests.  If he loses big in Mississippi and Alabama, he is back on a losing streak.

So why were the experts, and the non-experts like The Dismal Political Economist wrong?  One simple answer is that the ultra Conservative base of the Republican party has decided to turn out for Mr. Santorum as the least objectionable alternative to Mr. Romney.  His comments that President Kennedy’s position on the separation of church and state made him want to vomit, and that Mr. Obama is a snob for wanting young men and women to go to college are abhorrent with the majority of the electorate, but there is a fringe element that is now dominating the Republican party and the voters in the primaries. They like stuff like that.

Another reason that might have affected the outcome, and this will surprise many people, is the failure of Mitt Romney to call out Rush Limbaugh on his comments on the woman he called a slut and prostitute for supporting employer provided birth control as part of health insurance.  Mr. Romney obviously felt he could not alienate the Limbaugh voters, but he wasn't going to get them anyway.  Had Mr. Romney strongly condemned Mr. Limbaugh he would have presented the image of a leader with at least some courage and convictions, and would have won some much needed admiration.  His weasel words just reinforced the image of a craven politician.  Yes, Mr. Romney could have improved his margin in Ohio and narrowed his loss in Tennessee if he had attacked Rush Limbaugh as strange as that is to say.

Mr. Romney is wounded, maybe severely, but not mortally.  But Mr. Romney is going to need a win in what would be called “unfriendly” territory, specifically territory where he is not a natural winner.  Florida is not enough because it happened so long ago, and Ohio is not enough because it was too close.  But Mr. Romney is collecting far more delegates than anyone else, and soon that will start to be the news of the election.  As has been said before here, strong Conservatives may not mind a tainted Romney nominatin and a loss in the general election.  It will give them a reason to cry that they need to nominate a pure Conservative, not a false one in order to win the Presidency.

This process is dynamic not static, and anyone who tries to predict the outcome in a dynamic environment is prospecting for fool’s gold.

Anybody like to buy some pyrite?  The Dismal Political Economist has plenty.

No comments:

Post a Comment