Santorum is the Not Romney

After last night’s double victories for Rick Santorum in Alabama and Mississippi, a couple things seem clear about the state of the race:

  • Rick Santorum is officially the Not Romney candidate that the Republican Party has been looking for over the last year-plus.
  • Newt Gingrich’s southern strategy has failed. Unfortunately, since he outperformed Romney in both Alabama and Mississippi, it’s unlikely that his ego will allow him to drop out just yet. As long as he’s in the race, he is preventing Santorum from collecting delegates. The presumption is that this helps Romney.
  • Gingrich’s campaign will likely go on up until the moment that Sheldon Adelson decides to stop writing million dollar checks to support it. One man is keeping Newt in the race. If I were Rick Santorum, I’d be phone banking Adelson all week.
  • Ron Paul’s performance is a joke at this point. For all the perceived grassroots support and small-dollar fundraising power, he has utterly failed to register in recent primaries. That said, I doubt he drops any time soon.

Despite all of this, it still looks like Romney will get the nomination. It will just be a slow, unenthusiastic slog. Conservatives don’t believe Romney is one of them, but every time he casts himself to the right of Santorum, he walks himself down a path that alienates independent voters, women and Hispanics. In short, Romney’s pathway to attaining the Republican nomination depends exclusively on him attaining a Pyrrhic victory. He will win in such a way as to put himself in an insurmountable hole for the general election.

Of course, if Santorum attains the nomination, we could be looking at Obama winning reelection with 40+ states.

It’s silly at this point to expect there to be another candidate to come in at the convention, unless Romney is prevented from winning the required number of delegates (something which does not seem likely). Romney will continue to look more and more like Bob Dole and the only thing that is likely to save the Republican’s chances of winning back the White House will be a major disaster, economic or military. In short, the GOP is going to have to make like Rush Limbaugh and root for America to fail if they want the White House back. Given how turbulent the economy has been and the lack of major popular accomplishments during the President’s first term, it’s fairly remarkable that the GOP couldn’t nominate a challenger with a better shot at beating President Obama.


Matt Browner-Hamlin is a blogger & political strategist based in Washington, DC. He has written about US politics since 2004. He's worked on presidential and Senate campaigns, in the labor movement and the Tibetan independence movement. He is the founder of OccupyOurHomes.org and currently spends much of his time fighting Wall Street banks. Matt on Google+, and his .

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