Rick Santorum celebrated Easter and spent time with his family this weekend. He’ll spend Monday with his hospitalized 3-year-old daughter Bella whose fight for life has been an inspiring and sympathetic parallel journey to his campaign since its inception. All of this, along with the fact that there has been no major ad buys in the upcoming primary state of Pennsylvania, is fueling speculation that Santorum is considering pulling out. Given that he has virtually no chance of winning the Republican presidential nomination and stands to suffer a terrible humiliation if, as is entirely possible, he loses his home state primary later this month, there are good reasons why Santorum should do just that. But the betting here right now is that he won’t.
Though a veteran and in many ways a highly practical politician, Santorum has a vision of his career and his party that has never exactly conformed to what other people thought he should do. While this might be the right moment to cash in his chips after a remarkable primary run that brought him more success than anyone outside his inner circle thought possible, the thinking here is that he has gone too far to pull out now when he still thinks he could win at home and then do some more damage in the May primaries. Even more to the point, he may have come to the conclusion that being a “team player” and standing aside for frontrunner Mitt Romney will not materially aid the party or his long-range plans.
Rick Santorum has bet his political future on winning the Republican presidential primary in his home state of Pennsylvania this month but according to the latest polling, he’s about to lose that wager. Public Policy Polling’s new survey shows Mitt Romney taking the lead in Pennsylvania for the first time, with a 42-37-percentage point advantage. Santorum’s level of support in Pennsylvania has been declining in recent weeks as polls conducted by Franklin & Marshall College and Quinnipiac University in the last week both showed the large leads he had earlier this year shrinking dramatically. But in the wake of Romney’s wins in three states on Tuesday, voters polled yesterday by PPP appear to be coming to the conclusion that with the general election fight against President Obama about to commence, Santorum’s continuing insurgency is undermining the GOP’s hopes of victory in the fall.
The polling, which showed Romney making up ground with every demographic where he has had trouble throughout the race — evangelicals, Tea Partiers and very conservative voters — demonstrates the fact that growing numbers of even those Republicans who were unsympathetic to the frontrunner are starting to make their peace with his inevitability. And with President Obama already beginning to launch attacks on him, the impulse to close ranks behind their eventual standard-bearer is overcoming home state loyalty to Santorum.
It looks like Rick Santorum is committed to a slow death crawl to the Pennsylvania primary, but even if he manages to maintain his modest lead in the polls and pull off a victory, it could be meaningless in terms of his delegate count. The Huffington Post reports the delegates aren’t required to support any candidate, and there are signs Mitt Romney may be further ahead in collecting potential delegate support in Rick Santorum’s home state:
Bob Asher, as one of the state’s national committee members, is one of three Pennsylvania super delegates. He’s also a Romney supporter. Asher told the Morning Call that, “Based upon what I have heard, I think Gov. Romney will likely win the majority of the delegates in Pennsylvania.”
The Romney campaign declined to release a list of delegates in Pennsylvania who they believe will support the former governor, but Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) are both running to be national convention delegates, and both have come out in support of Romney. …
Campaign organization once again comes into play in these states with unbound delegates. Romney started collecting delegates in Pennsylvania back in 2011 when Santorum had a far smaller campaign, according to the Morning Call.
Santorum supporter State Sen. Jake Corman (R-34) said the Santorum campaign did court potential delegates to get them to commit to the former Pennsylvania senator.
“The problem is, when you’re running a low-budget campaign, you have to focus on the states in front of you, not 20 states in front of you,” Corman told Morning Call.
While there are still plenty of states left to vote in the Republican presidential race and Rick Santorum is thinking as much about 2016 as 2012, the rest of the country is beginning to focus this morning on the only real matchup that is left this year: Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama. Romney’s three primary wins last night solidified his status as the inevitable GOP nominee, and President Obama acknowledged that fact with a blistering direct attack on the Republican frontrunner that laid out the outlines of his campaign strategy. With Obama and the Democratic campaign machine beginning to focus all of their attention on Romney, that will start to diminish interest in what’s left of the GOP race.
But though Romney may not mention Rick Santorum’s name again until the day the latter concedes the nomination to him, he’s going to need to take the upcoming Pennsylvania primary seriously. The temptation for Romney is to view it as merely the chance to administer the coup de grace to Santorum’s challenge. But it’s actually more serious than that.
Mitt Romney’s victories in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia will add more than 80 delegates to his total and extend his commanding lead over Rick Santorum for the Republican presidential nomination. That sets up Pennsylvania as the primary that has the chance to put the Republicans out of their misery and finally end the GOP race. Since the other states that will vote on April 24 — New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware — will almost certainly go for Romney, Santorum’s homecoming may be his last stand.
While Pennsylvania is being given the opportunity to finally put a fork in the long, agonizing Republican presidential race, listening to Santorum’s speech in his home state tonight one got the feeling the candidate was thinking as much about 2016 as he was the 2012 contest. By repeatedly invoking Ronald Reagan’s presidential runs in 1976 and 1980, Santorum seemed to be preparing more to tell the GOP, “I told you so,” if Romney loses in November, than about his own chances this year.
Via Quinnipiac, Rick Santorum is now leading Mitt Romney by just six points among likely Pennsylvania Republican voters. The last Quinnipiac survey in mid-March showed Santorum with a 14-point lead, though keep in mind that poll was also taken among registered, not likely, Republican voters.
Favorite Son Rick Santorum leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 41 – 35 percent among likely voters in Pennsylvania’s Republican presidential primary, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul has 10 percent, with 7 percent for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Santorum tops Romney 43 – 33 percent among men, while women split 39 – 38 percent. Santorum also leads 53 – 24 percent among white evangelical Christians, 50 – 32 percent among Tea Party members and 48 – 30 percent among self-described conservatives. Romney is ahead 45 – 29 percent among self-described moderates.
Rick Santorum’s supporters are still bravely pretending he has a viable chance to stop Mitt Romney from winning the Republican presidential nomination. There’s little chance of that happening, but the one prerequisite for his campaign to continue past April is for the former senator to win a smashing victory in his home state of Pennsylvania. But a Philadelphia Daily News/Franklin & Marshall poll published today shows that Santorum will be lucky to squeak out even a narrow victory in the one large state he has any hope of winning in the upcoming weeks. The survey shows Santorum holding a narrow 30-28-percentage point lead over Romney with Ron Paul at 9 percent and Newt Gingrich fading into complete insignificance at 6 percent.
To say that such a result is a potential catastrophe for the tottering Santorum campaign is an understatement. Earlier this week, Santorum said he was looking ahead to winning primaries in May in some states where he might hope his strong backing from evangelicals would make the difference. But if Santorum is trounced in every other state that votes in April, a narrow win or even a loss in Pennsylvania would be a clear sign his run is coming to an end.
After the walloping they took last night in Illinois, Rick Santorum’s supporters are hopeful that the next stop on the Republican primary calendar will cheer them up. Santorum is favored to win Saturday’s Louisiana Primary but that won’t change the fact that on Tuesday, he lost one of his last chances to win a state whose GOP is not dominated by evangelicals. The 47-35 percent beating he took in Illinois — which allowed Romney to win all but a handful of the state’s convention delegates — does more than merely reinforce the sense of Romney’s inevitability that is now acknowledged by all but the most diehard of his opponents’ supporters. The pattern of voting is such that there is now no longer any credible scenario that can be put forward in which Romney is denied a majority of the convention’s delegates by June.
Though the race will go on for at least another month, for the first time in this long and tortuous race, the end is clearly in sight. The April 24 Pennsylvania primary now looks to be an opportunity for Romney to close out his opponent by beating him in his home state. But even if Santorum can hold onto Pennsylvania, the May 8 trio of North Carolina, Indiana and West Virginia may be his last stand especially since Romney is likely to win most of the states that vote in April. The delegate math makes it impossible for Santorum to pretend that he can actually win the nomination on his own. Not even the complete collapse of Newt Gingrich’s candidacy — the former speaker finished dead last in the field of four behind Ron Paul — has been enough to prevent the frontrunner from assuming a commanding lead that will not be overtaken.