I don’t know which is more troubling, Mitt Romney finishing in third place in both Alabama and Mississippi, or his campaign spending the last few days ratcheting up their expectations. Things are even worse that they appear when you realize that over 70 percent of voters voted against Romney in both states. You can say it’s the south, you can say that only delegates matter, but you have to admit that Romney has have some serious problems to overcome.
The Romney campaign is blowing off the results from Alabama and Mississippi, but consider the following:
On Monday Romney told an Alabama crowd, “We’re gonna win tomorrow.”
Romney and his Super PAC spent $2.5 million on television ads in Alabama and Mississippi, Rick Santorum and his Super PAC spent about $800,000. Even Newt Gingrich and his Super PAC spent more than Santorum.
Alabama was always going to be more difficult for Romney, but in Mississippi, he had a lot of establishment help. Former US Senator Trent Lott, Governor Phil Bryant, and former Governor Haley Barbour’s political team were all activated by the Romney campaign, but it didn’t matter.
Romney’s whiz-bang communications team spun the media so much that Tuesday was full of stories like Jonathan Martin’s, “Romney could seal deal in Dixie” or The Drudge Report’s picture of Romney stating, “South’s Favorite Son?” This advanced the notion that Romney was in store for big wins.
When it became obvious that Alabama and Mississippi were not going to go their way, the Romney campaign took to Twitter to post, “Will be a late night waiting for results from American Samoa and HI but a big THANK YOU to everyone who voted in MS and AL.” Once again wanting to focus on delegate acquisition and noting else.
Speaking of American Samoa, does anyone else think it’s a little odd that they get nine delegates when a total of only 70 people participate? Only 215 people voted in Guam, but the powerhouse U.S. territory thus far is the Northern Mariana Islands where 848 people voted. If you are counting at home, the 1,133 people who voted in those three contests provide Romney with 27 delegates, just one less than the state of Iowa awards. The people on these three islands are American citizens, but are not allowed to vote in the general election. Talk about odd.
The Romney campaign is focused on delegate math, and for good reason. If it were not for their ability to accumulate delegates, the Romney campaign would be taking loss after loss. What’s odd is that they spend hours and hours convincing people that Rick Santorum can’t capture the necessary 1,144 delegates to secure the nomination, but the math is equally hard for them.
Romney’s path to 1,144 could very well take him all the way to the last contest, which is held in Utah. Even then, there is a reasonable chance that he could come up short of the delegates that he needs to obtain the nomination. So, if Romney can’t secure the nomination, why should Santorum ever get out of the race? As I’ve said time and time again, Romney needs to stop losing states if he wants to win the nomination.
Gingrich Beats Romney, but Can’t Beat Santorum
For months the conventional wisdom was that so long as Gingrich and Santorum split the conservative vote, Romney would benefit. Gingrich’s presence in the race has not prevented Santorum from winning states like Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Tennessee, but he has prevented Santorum from getting some big delegate hauls.
There is no easy way to put it other than that Gingrich is toast. If he can’t win Alabama and Mississippi, he’s not going to win anywhere else. You would think that someone as bright as Gingrich would understand that, but who knows. In fact, just a week ago his campaign spokesman said that Alabama and Mississippi were must wins when describing why there were not going to contest Kansas. Now the same spokesperson is saying who ever said that should be “flogged.” Whoops!
Santorum is Much Stronger Than He is Given Credit For
Despite being outspent and attacked from all sides, Rick Santorum keeps winning states. The same can’t be said of Romney who has never been in a situation where he and his Super PAC have been outspent in a contest. What’s amazing is that Santorum still finds a way to win in places like Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. I mention those states because while they may be conservative, Santorum doesn’t really have any connections there. Makes you wonder what this race would look like if Santorum had ample resources.
Who knows, after last night’s wins money might start coming his way. If that happens, Romney is in big time trouble.
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