A bad night for Mitt Romney, and a good one for Rick Santorum

Remember how a few hours ago, I was all like, “yeah, Mitt’s looking surprisingly good down in the deep south!”

Well, never mind.  The results aren’t all in yet, but the NY Times has called both Alabama and Mississippi for Rick Santorum.  Newt Gingrich is in second place in both states, and Romney is a close third.

So, a couple of takeaways.  First, yup, the deep south is very hard to poll, for some reason.  The projections had Romney doing much better – 1st in MS, 2nd in AL, and Santorum in 3rd in both states.  Sure doesn’t look like it’s turning out that way.

Second, Newt is finished.  The question is whether he realizes it, or whether he will continue to stick around and split the not-Mitt vote.  If he sticks it out, Romney probably still wins the nomination pretty easily.  But if he gets out and throws his support to Santorum, that could substantially shake things up.

Third, just as beating expectations can be awesome, failing to meet them can really suck.  Nobody thought Romney had a chance in these states – until the good poll numbers started rolling in.  Now, by coming in third in both states, Romney looks like a big loser instead of just performing as everyone always thought he would.

In any event, tonight’s a big night for Rick Santorum.



Discuss

33 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Santorum

    Tonight’s results at least extend the inevitable, if nothing else. Still, Santorum’s going to have to show quite a bit more to have any real shot at winning. The best-case scenario (for Santorum…and Democrats) is for Romney to lose Illinois, which was surprisingly close in the polls coming into tonight. If that happens, Santorum might have a chance to really gain steam.

    For now, at least, it’s nice to sit back and watch Romney squirm for at least a little bit longer.

    • More important

      is that I saw a bunch of Committee and elected Democrats last night in The Taste of Metrowest at my hometown’s Sheraton across the Bernardi car dealership I get service in. Best of all, I met Brigadier General McGuiness.

      • Good stuff

        And I am glad you are keeping the focus on whats really important, keeping progressive politics alive locally and fighting for our side instead of being distracted by theirs. I’d also take a guess this was in Framingham (in the cheesy castle shaped Sheraton?)

        I think Gingrich stays in, there are even rumors he has been promised an important position behind the scenes by Camp Romney, maybe the same deal they obviously gave Paul. Gotta give Rick credit for challenging the machine, and you gotta think Mike Huckabee is kicking himself right now, he’d be cruising to the nomination right now at this point and positioned quite well against Obama. Romney is in many respects a weaker nominee since he is even more of what the Republican base say they hate about Obama: elitist,out of touch, effete social liberal, closet socialist/statist, and someone who cares little about Main Street. Huckabee would’ve been far more potent for the base without the general election risks that Santorum has. I wonder if Romney helped pay for his Florida mansion?

  2. You beat me to the blimp

    DNC Chair Wasserman Schultz had a quote that was pretty good, especially in the context of the typically robotic Party press releases:

    “It wasn’t for a lack of trying on Romney’s part – he had a huge spending advantage over his rivals, which he used to carpet-bomb them with negative ads. He did everything he could to pander to the far right wing of his party with extreme and out-of-touch positions like vowing to get rid of Planned Parenthood, as he did today. Romney even took the unbelievable step of playing to Southern stereotypes by faking a Southern accent, declaring his affinity for grits and using ‘y’all’ every chance he got.

    If only he had made some Porky’s jokes, perhaps he could have won.

    • What's most shocking is

      Spending all that money and still coming in third. Imagine what this would look like if the financial playing field were even.

  3. Oh well

    I was rooting for Gingrich to win both just to keep things interesting.

    • Disagree

      Though its really a quibble over nothing, but I think Santorum is the far more viable nominee and if we want this to continue we should want a one on one fight that drags on to the convention. Unlike Obama v. Clinton, which was a lot more about leadership and fresh v. tired (or experienced v. naivete depending on which side you were on) as opposed to serious ideological fissures (the war vote aside, lot of anti-war Clinton supporters out there so it didn’t seem to matter), they Tea Party v. Establishment split has been brewing for awhile, almost since the GOP won 2010, and will spill out onto that convention floor in a way it hasn’t since 76′ and 64′ on their side and maybe even as 68′ was on our side. I think the mainstream media and the liberal blogosphere underestimate the sheer hatred a good segment (possibly a majority) of the Republican party has for Romney.

      • *addendum

        *Excluding BMGs David who has actually had a pretty objective and good read on this race so far, some bad predictions notwithstanding

      • Romney and Santorum

        I would certainly agree that the best thing (for Democrats) would be for no candidate to reach the required amount of delegates and have this thing go to the convention (something that is still quite unlikely, but possible).

        But let’s not kid ourselves — the strongest Republican nominee in the current field is unquestionably Romney. He may be gaffe-prone and awkward, but at least he’s a relatively standard, boring party nominee. He may generate a “sheer hatred” among the Republican Party (something I doubt, but let’s assume for the sake of argument), but by November all Republicans will equate Romney with the second coming of Christ because he’s against Obama.

        The key difference is with independents. Romney is the sort of boring party nominee who has a chance if things go south with the economy. Santorum, on the other hand, will cause independents to desert the GOP in droves. Not only will Santorum be screwed, but so will Brown and other GOP nominees across the country. As relatively weak as Romney is, Santorum would be a much better opponent for Dems.

        • Ohio?

          The GOP results are breaking at the $100K line; Romney does really well north of that line, Santorum does well below it. Romney isn’t winning the lunch bucket GOP votes – and certainly didn’t do well in Ohio.

          My prognostication is that Romney can’t beat Obama in Ohio, and it will be very hard for Willard to win without Ohio.

      • Hatred, yes ... but

        The hatred is only temporarily targeted at Mitt Romney.

        The real focus of the right-wing hate machine is non-haters like you, me, and most of us here on BMG. The hate campaign has only just begun. We’ve seen it against immigrants, gay and lesbian Americans, non-believers and — of course — women. The right wing simply can’t live with a black president. They can’t accept an America where white Christian men are not the predominant political force.

        This right wing is all about hate and has been since Barack Obama was elected president.

      • Fissure

        Unfortunately, if Romney is the nominee and loses, this will invigorate the tea party, who will argue that Romney wasn’t “tea party” enough, despite his “strongly, severely, very conservative” speechifying. I think a Romney nomination and loss drives the GOP further to the right.

        Eventually, the establishment candidate will have to take the tea party on directly, rather than trying to placate them.

        • I think that's exactly right.

          In the long run, it would be a lot better all around for Santorum to be the nominee and to be crushed in a 40-state blowout. Of course that would be nice for the Dems, but it would also be much better for the health of the GOP.

          • But what if he wins?

            A whole lot us cheered for a then-unelectable crazy right-wing conservative candidate named Ronald Reagan to win the GOP nomination, because a weakened Jimmy Carter would surely triumph in a landslide. Ronald Reagan was going to be “another Goldwater” whose nomination would assure a second term for the incumbent Jimmy Carter.

            I think we should be very careful about what we wish for.

            • Reagan and Santorum

              You make a good point, but it should be noted that Santorum has nothing close to the personal charisma and political talents of Reagan. (Plus, Obama’s base is stronger than Carter’s base at the time).

              It’s not an outright impossibility for Santorum to win, but it’s quite a bit less likely than a Romney victory. I’d take the risk of a 25% chance of Santorum winning over a 45% chance of Romney winning.

              • Not at the time ...

                My recollection is that few Americans knew of or recognized either the personal charisma or political talents of Ronald Reagan while he was seeking the GOP nomination. He was a right-wing crazy grade-B movie actor who had somehow gotten himself elected as Governor of California — and everybody knew Californians were nutso crazy.

                It’s true that Rick Santorum has had a much longer and arguably more visible public career than Ronald Reagan in 1979. Still, a huge number of Americans say they prefer Rick Santorum to Barack Obama.

  4. Romney is losing to an unelectable lunatic

    That has neither Romney’s zillions nor his establishment backing.

    From Wikipedia:

    “In the November 7, 2006 election, Santorum lost by over 700,000 votes, receiving 41% of the vote to Casey’s 59%, the largest margin of defeat for an incumbent senator since 1980.”

    Santorum is political Kryptonite, but he’s still giving Romney a good beat-down.

    Craziest thing I’ve ever seen, very entertaining, and indicative of the sea change that’s occurred in our country: thanks to Occupy, folks are finally realizing that there is a 99%, and a 1%, and one side is brutalizing the other. They know Santorum’s a nut, but better a nut than a sociopathic prdator.

  5. Be very careful

    I think it’s extraordinarily dangerous to think that Rick Santorum is an “unelectable lunatic”.

    I encourage you to reread “The Handmaid’s Tale. On my first reading, decades ago, I thought it was a bizarre dystopia fantasy. It is, on a recent reread, appallingly real.

    • A little dramatic but worth considering

      The biggest flaw with that book is that Cambridge, MA would never be the reincarnation of Calvin’s Geneva that this book purports it to be and neither would a Santorum presidency which is a lot less likely than Reagans. Carter was south of 40% for most of 1980, had a bruising primary challenge from Teddy Kennedy, the left stayed home or voted for Anderson, and he had a giant foreign policy problem. Reagan also had Bush as VP and brought back most of the Nixon team, which reassured the old guard and swing voters. I will agree though that I think we should root for Santorum bruising Romney and pushing him rightward while exposing how out of touch he is and digging up the dirt so Obama doesn’t have to. But Santorum as nominee risks too much to the country and he might play better among lunch pail working c,lass whites particularly with his protectionist economics, better than Romney at least.

      As I’ve said before Obama must sweep the midwest and his campaign is finally pivoting in that direction, Florida and VA are lost causes if Romney is the nominee, but “Let Detroit go Bankruptcy” the GOP won’t carry a single midwestern state, not even IN. We need that firewall and Santorum has consistently done better there.

      • I refered to the overnight imposition of theocracy

        The book doesn’t claim that the overnight transition to theocracy began in Cambridge. That transition happened elsewhere, in the book, because nobody believed it could happen. The book is set in Cambridge because Cambridge (actually Harvard) was an early target of the new theocracy. One need only listen to the rhetoric of the Tea Party side of Scott Brown to appreciate the relevance.

        Rick Santorum is not gaining ground because of his “protectionist economics”. Instead, he is gaining momentum because of his open pursuit of his religious agenda. While we discuss the fine points of political inside baseball, religious crazies all over the nation are flocking to Rick Santorum.

        The Handmaid’s Tale was originally cast as a feminist work, because of the appalling treatment of women it describes (though those images are completely consistent with the view of women that religious institutions have always promoted). Today, it strikes me as relevant because of the terrifying growth of extreme religious fundamentalism that is sweeping America today — and was unimaginable (except for Margaret Atwood) in 1985.

  6. Nice to see our beloved blimp this morning.
    I still cannot explain to my friends from out of state how Massachusetts ever elected Mittens…he is such and embarrassment (to our state and himself).

    • Answer

      We are still hopelessly enthralled to the myth of the moderate Republican.

      • Also

        A lot of people still think that success in business is somehow relevant to being able to operate a government. That the goals of corporations are antithetical to what should be the goals of governments never seems to dawn on those people.

  7. Sorry to spoil some of your fun but...

    Romney won 41 delegates from Tuesday’s contests, 35 for Santorum, Gingrich is projected to have won 24 delegates.

    So the totals are Romeny 494, Santorum 251 and Newt 131 with 1,144 needed to win the nomination.

    If I were Mitt (that’s his name vs. all the names BMGers use even though they despise name calling on Dems), I would be feeling very comfortable. Keep taking that big of a cut in the South and know he’ll take huge amounts of the rest of the country where we won’t see as much Evangelical votes.

    I think Mitt is happy and should be feeling good.

    As for the remarks about spending, do we want to talk about how many Dems have outspent Republicans in races they won? Let’s start with Candidate Obama spending $740,000,000 compared to John McCain spending $227,000,000 in the 2008 Presidential race. Can we draw similar conclusions there as BMGers are saying about Mitt Romney. From above … “Imagine what this would look like if the financial playing field were even.”

    Republicans will unite behind the nominee and we will have a big chance to defeat the President in November. A lot can happen between now and then, unemployment can go up… or it can go down, Obama can withdraw from Afghanistan… or we could have another disaster over there.

    Should be interesting… GO MITT!!!!!

    • Slow down, pardner

      I reject your contention that “BMGers” make a habit of using derogatory names for candidates. I make a very conscious effort to refer to public figures as “Mitt Romney” or “Mr. Romney”. I am just as uncomfortable with the rudeness of comments like that of “jbxx” as you — and note that he has made a total of two comments here since creating his account on January 22 of this year, each applauding the blimp image.

      Your observation about campaign spending misses the point in a colossal way: the abhorrent Citizens United decision, opening the floodgates of corporate advertising spending, happened after the 2008 campaign. The amounts you cite ($0.74 M and $0.23 M) are peanuts compared with what’s already been spent on just the GOP primary.

      Mitt Romney, your candidate spent $2.7M in Alabama, Mississippi, Illinois and Louisiana alone. That’s more than ten times the spending you cite from John McCain — and the GOP doesn’t even have a nominee yet.

      It appears we are will on track for getting the best President money can buy. “Go Mitt” indeed.

      • Whoops ... missed a few zeroes

        Time for more coffee, I read your amounts as thousands rather than millions.

        Nevertheless, the Citizens United decision has fundamentally altered the landscape. Comparisons to the 2008 campaign are irrelevant. I don’t have the data, but I’d be surprised if any of the 2008 candidates — Democratic or Republican — spent, at this point in their campaigns, anything like the money that has already been spent in this GOP primary season.

        • WHo amongst us has not made a few mistakes.

          I think my point was valid Tom becuase I was not implyng anything about “where” the money came from, simply saying replying to a comment that a “level playing field may have made a difference in the Romney race then let’s talk about what a level playing field would have done for McCain.

          As for names, Mitt gets called a different name everyday here, I thought we were beyond that, I know I am. Thanks for having the same high standard I’ve learned from being on BMG as I was a previous “bad player” with regards to name calling.

    • It will always be interesting.

      And there will always be a big chance to defeat the President in November. Not saying much there.

      But Mitt is definitely not looking forward to having wingnut opponents taking potshots at him and forcing him to campaign–spend money and time–against them instead of Obama. At the rate the GOP primary is going, he won’t be able to divert his attention from Santorum until April. The longer he kowtows to the extreme right, the more votes he loses from the center. The more his reputation for flip-flopping and saying whatever to get elected will grow.

      And if Mitt doesn’t get enough delegates–though he probably will–there will be a fight on the floor, and that could get ugly if his opponents choose to throw their delegates to Santorum. As it is, Mitt will still be accepting a nomination at a convention where he’ll be not very popular.

      He’s got a tough road ahead. It’s not necessarily a road to defeat, but it’s a tough road.

    • "Huge amounts of the rest of the country?"

      Like he did swamping his opponents in MI and OH? I can’t make any predictions about the November outcome, but I can say that Romney is showing serious weakness as a candidate, and this is against poor alternatives for the nomination. What is going to happen when he goes up against a strong candidate who knows how to connect with voters?

  8. JConway...

    …can you elaborate on why Florida is a lost cause? I’m not at all convinced, especially considering how unpopular the current GOP Governor is.

    • My bad

      I haven’t been paying attention to the Florida polls as closely as I should, it just looked like they went hard right in 2010, turnout was actually quite high in their GOP primary, Romney did not have a deficit amongst Hispanics and it is an area where older voters tend to vote in force and they tend to dislike Obama by disproportionate margins. The criticism that he is anti-Israel might play there as well, obviously one should not give up any swing state with that kind of electoral votes, but the Obama campaign has a better chance of maintaining its midwestern states, its Hispanic leaning states out west, and flipping AZ than defending FL, though it should definitely not surrender it which was not what I was arguing.

      It is also worth noting that Rubio is still extremely popular and will likely by Romney’s VP nominee and that Ben Nelson asked for Biden and not Obama to campaign for him. He is hardly dead there but its also not his best state and seems to be the only big state Romney could conceivably flip.

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