lunes, 6 de febrero de 2012

Santorum y el Medio Oeste



Nate Silver:
Mr. Romney lost Iowa to Rick Santorum, albeit by about the narrowest possible margin. He will have two more opportunities to win a Midwestern state on Tuesday, when Minnesota has its caucuses and Missouri holds a primary. (The Missouri primary does not matter for delegate selection: the state will hold a separate caucus for that purpose in March.)

Mr. Romney could be vulnerable in both states. A survey released on Sunday by Public Policy Polling, which has had fairly accurate results so far in the primary season, had Minnesota as a toss-up between Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum, with Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul not far behind.

And in Missouri, where Mr. Gingrich is not on the ballot for the “beauty contest” primary, it had Mr. Santorum ahead of Mr. Romney, 45 percent to 34 percent.
Imagine that Mr. Romney were to lose both states. That would make him zero for three in the nation’s most important swing region. It would raise questions about his performance in Ohio, probably the most important state to vote on “Super Tuesday,” March 6. Polling there also shows a competitive race.

(...) Imagine, moreover, that Mr. Santorum wins both Minnesota and Missouri. That could revive his campaign, especially given that he also took Iowa.

Mr. Santorum is, in many ways, a more dangerous opponent for Mr. Romney than Mr. Gingrich at this point. He has run a more disciplined campaign than the former House speaker, has less personal baggage and is less disliked by party leaders.

Mr. Santorum can also make a credible claim to challenging Mr. Romney on electability. Mr. Santorum’s current unfavorable rating among all voters is 11 points lower than Mr. Romney’s, 36 percent versus 47 percent. Their favorable ratings are roughly equal: 30 percent for Mr. Santorum to 29 percent for Mr. Romney.

Mr. Santorum’s conservative positions on social issues might not make him an ideal fit with certain types of independent voters. States that are moderate to -liberal on social policy, like Virginia, New Hampshire, Nevada and Colorado, could be tougher for Republicans to win if Mr. Santorum is their nominee.

But those concerns might be outweighed if Mr. Santorum shows strength in the Midwest — and Mr. Romney shows weakness. More than the other candidates, Mr. Santorum has made an effort to appeal to working-class voters in the recent debates and to show a more compassionate side of conservatism when it comes to fiscal policy.

(...) With Mr. Santorum, however, you can at least draw up a coherent path to victory, one that runs through the Midwest. There is a Midwestern state left to vote at virtually every turn of the nomination calendar. After Michigan on Feb. 28 and Ohio on Super Tuesday comes Missouri (again) on March 17, when it holds its caucuses, then Illinois on March 20, Wisconsin on April 3 and Pennsylvania on April 24. (A big disadvantage for Mr. Santorum: He did not qualify for the ballot in Indiana, which votes on May 8.)

Mr. Santorum would eventually need to expand his coalition beyond the region — such as to the socially conservative states of the South. But victories for him in Minnesota or Missouri — especially if he wins both — would at once raise new concerns about Mr. Romney’s appeal to working-class voters and make Mr. Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina appear to be a one-off event that is quickly receding in the rear-view mirror.