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April 3rd, 2012
 

Romney and Santorum Need Wisconsin for Different Reasons

The Republican presidential primary contest today in Wisconsin is fascinating for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, a strong Wisconsin victory by Romney could put the Republican nomination fight on ice. For almost a month now, establishment Republicans, the media, and the Romney campaign have tried to make the case the primary is effectively over.   Romney and his allies have had success in making the argument, but Rick Santorum’s ability to produce wins on Super Tuesday and in four other states that have followed has limited the impact of the argument substantially.

Romney’s delegate lead and other advantages have had a significant impact.  One only needs to look at the string of endorsements Romney has received over the last seven days, which include two big endorsements from Wisconsin in Congressman Paul Ryan and Senator Ron Johnson.  Still, the only way for Romney to bring the primary to a close is for him to have a convincing win in Wisconsin tonight.

A number of polls indicate that Romney should win in Wisconsin tonight, but his seven-point advantage over Santorum is not as strong as the 15-point advantage he had in Illinois.  Santorum has also shown a propensity for out performing his poll numbers.  The most recent example of Santorum out performing his poll numbers was in Alabama and Mississippi, but that was also the case in Colorado and Wisconsin’s neighbor to the west, Minnesota.

While Romney needs a win to basically put an end to the primary, Santorum needs a win to give his campaign a boost in order to make it to the May contests, which are very favorable for him.  Santorum last won a contest on March 24th, so if he loses Wisconsin, a month will have passed without a victory leading into the April 24th primary in his home state of Pennsylvania.  If Romney is unable to seal the deal in Wisconsin tonight, it’s very unlikely that we’ll see Santorum getting out of the race before the primary contests come to an end.

Another fascinating aspect of the Wisconsin primary is that it’s being overshadowed by the June recall election.  Republican activists in Wisconsin are paying more attention to the recall election of Governor Scott Walker than the presidential race.  For the first time in the 2012 campaign, the presidential primary is not the only circus in town.  All of the presidential ads that are being run in the state don’t just have to compete with their opponents’ ads, but also the ads that are running in advance of the June recall.

The focus on the recall election could significantly hamper turnout for the presidential primary.  It’s hard to tell who benefits more from a low turnout, Romney or Santorum.  Romney has been making the case that the primary is basically over.  That’s a good narrative to push with national media, but it could also mean that his supporters might not be apt to go to the polls.  Santorum’s supporters have been passionate, but with the narrative that he can’t win coupled with Congressman Ryan and Senator Johnson’s recent endorsements of Romney, they could say to themselves, “why bother.”  You could easily say that it’s a toss-up as to who’s supporters are more likely to go to the polls today, but Santorum’s advantage with social conservatives could give him an edge.

Tonight’s results in Wisconsin will answer a lot of questions.  Has Romney essentially wrapped up the Republican nomination, or does Santorum have license to keep forging ahead?  In addition to that, Wisconsin will also tell us whether voters are as ready for the Republican primary to be over as they media and the Republican establishment are.  The answer is anyone’s guess.  Polls close at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.




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