If Santorum stays in race, Pennsylvania could spell his doom
Less than a month before the Republican presidential primary in Pennsylvania, some experts warn that Rick Santorum faces a second humiliating defeat in a state he represented for 16 years in Washington.
The campaign should end before the April 24 primary here if the former senator continues to slide in opinion polls and lose other primaries, said Ed Morrissey, editor of the widely read conservative blog, Hot Air.
"Losing in Pennsylvania not only finishes him in the race, but it may finish him for good," said Morrissey, who caucused for Santorum last week in Minnesota.
A Franklin & Marshall College poll released on Wednesday showed Santorum lost a double-digit lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in less than a month. The two are about tied in Pennsylvania.
In 2006, Santorum lost a bid for a third term by 18 percentage points to Democrat Bob Casey of Scranton, the worst drubbing in the nation that year for an incumbent.
Republican strategist Brad Todd said Santorum faces a tough series of contests before Pennsylvania, especially primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
"I think with Wisconsin, it will be hard to stitch a narrative together, even by his most ardent backers, if he loses there to go on," said Todd, noting polls show Santorum trailing Romney by 8 percentage points in the Badger State. "The support isn't there for him. Losing another blue-collar, Catholic-rich Midwestern state to Mitt Romney isn't a good story to tell."
Santorum's campaign appears to be in trouble as well in Maryland and the District of Columbia, said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst for University of Virginia.
"Then there's a three-week break, which gives Romney time to really focus on Pennsylvania in an effort to knock Santorum from the race," he said.
The Santorum campaign did not return requests for comment.
A candidate needs 1,144 delegates to gain the Republican nomination. Romney has 568 delegates to Santorum's 273, with about 1,258 remaining to be chosen, according to the Associated Press.
Santorum's delegate gap with Romney is essentially insurmountable, said Josh Putnam, an expert at Davidson College in North Carolina.
"They could make the argument that better days are ahead in May in Arkansas, Texas and North Carolina, but that becomes decreasingly likely when and if he gets swept during the April contests," Putnam said.
"Which makes me wonder if the contest really ever gets to Pennsylvania," said Morrissey.
"Needless to say, if the new poll holds true and Pennsylvania is now a dead heat, Santorum could be staring an embarrassing loss in the face," said Kondik.
Kondik said exit polls show a trend during this Republican primary cycle.
"In states where exit polling has been conducted, Mitt Romney wins the state when the percentage of white, evangelical Christians voting is below 50 percent," he said.
When that number is above 50 percent, one of Romney's opponents has won.
"While we do not have exit polling from Pennsylvania's Republican primary in 2008, it's safe to assume that the evangelical count in Pennsylvania will be similar to other states in the Midwest: 47 percent in Ohio, 42 percent in Illinois and 39 percent in Michigan," he said. Romney won all three primaries.
The evangelical vote in Wisconsin likely will be less than 50 percent, he said.
"My larger point here is this: Santorum does not have a place coming up for the rest of the month, Pennsylvania included, where he is likely to do all that well," he said. "Considering not only the demographics of the upcoming states, but also the fact that Romney and his allies will be outspending Santorum in Pennsylvania and other upcoming states."
Joe Trippi, veteran Democratic strategist who ran Vermont Gov. Howard Dean's presidential campaign in 2004, said he understands why Santorum can't just let go.
"It is very hard to pull out of that once you start to taste victory," Trippi said. "I understand the human difficulty of walking away."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pa. House says no, 193-0, to Gov. Wolf’s tax plan
- Pennsylvania troopers union warns of ‘mass exodus’ if pension reform bill passes
- Steelers notebook: Rookie corner adjusting to slot
- Police charge Bloomfield man with repeated sexual assault of juvenile
- NFL notebook: Panthers quarterback Newton signs record contract extension
- Lower Burrell man charged with raping girl
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Giants, June 3, 2015
- Pennsylvania state Senate panel passes along DEP nominee Quigley with no OK
- Tuesday - June 2, 2015
- Electrician turns up bomb while working in Brighton Heights home
- Wall Street takes 1 step forward, 2 steps back as utilities’ slump overshadows energy’s gains