Rick Santorum Sweeps, So Why Is Mitt Romney Smiling?

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Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were the two biggest players Tuesday night.

Matt Brownsword

Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were the two biggest players Tuesday night.

 

In Blaine, Minnesota, presidential hopeful Rick Santorum delivered a speech, accepting his two wins in the Missouri primary and the Minnesota caucus. In it, Rick Santorum told Minnesota voters that “[they were going] to shake up America tonight,” promising the influentiality of the state over the Republican primaries. However, Santorum did not know the extent of his victories, as the Colorado caucus, being one hour behind the two midwest caucus and primary, was yet to reveal its results. The results of the Colorado caucus were the most instrumental to Santorum’s successful night: Santorum won by a 5-point margin over Mitt Romney. A ‘Santorum Sweep’ was in the cards, and the triple truimph shifted the balance of power at the top of the Republican party.

The Missouri primary was the biggest win for Santorum, as he defeated Romney by a resounding 30 points—the highest margin of victory thus far. However, the primary did not allocate any delegates—the state will have a caucus in March in which the delegates will be apportioned. The Minnesota caucus was also a big win—a 17 point margin—but the biggest win was in Colorado. Colorado, in the 2008 Republican primary, was a resounding win for Romney with a whopping 60 percent of the vote. Santorum’s win shows how voters will shy away from Mitt Romney at all costs at this point, and will stick to a guy they can trust.

So far, Romney and Gingrich have had setbacks in their campaign. Romney has been quoted on not-too-attractive answers, ranging from “I don’t care about the poor,” and “coorporations are people, my friend.” These unethical and immoral comments have estranged conservative and independent voters—making Romney a very unapealing candidate. Gingrich seems also not to care about his ethics and morals: One of the biggest knocks on his personality is his three wives, two of which he left when they were terminally ill. The gaffes by these two ‘frontrunners’ are unmistakable and have alienated voters across the country—contributing to the Santorum Surge.

So why is Mitt Romney so giddy? The answer is simple, and it’s been evident from day one of the primaries: All the other candidates are still somewhat appealing.

What? What is that you say? You say “that’s rediculous, Romney can not possibly like the fact that all of his opponents are liked by a noticeable percentage of voters?” However, the answer is concealed within a simple, relatable metaphor.

Imagine Gingrich and Santorum are on the same basketball team—they are both superstars, yet like LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, their statistics drop. Now imagine Romney is a player like Kevin Durant—an excellent player, yet not as skilled as James or Wade. However, in this version of the NBA, the objective is to score the most points, similar to the objective in the Republican primaries. James and Wade—Gingrich and Santorum—eat up each other’s ‘points’—voters; however, Durant—Romney—scores as much points as he can because of the lack of competition.

Barring the sports metaphor, the political science is this: Santorum and Gingrich both appeal, or try to appeal, to a similar voting population—the true conservative alternative to Romney. Romney, however, has his own platform: He is trying to get voters that are not anti-Gingrich or anti-Santorum, but pro-Romney.

So you ask again, why is Romney so happy? You say, “yes, Gingrich and Santorum eat up each other’s votes, but Santorum looked to be such a force that he took down Romney in three consecutive states, certainly he can overtake Gingrich and challenge Romney, right?”  

Look at the numbers. Can you guess how much money Gingrich put into advertising in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota combined? If you guessed zero dollars, you are correct. That’s right, Newt Gingrich spent zero dollars, and Santorum won all three states. To be fair, Santorum ran a decent campaign in all three states and acheived solid victories. However, Gingrich was a nonfactor (literally in Missouri, as he wasn’t even on the ballot)—Wade was sitting on the sideline, freeing up LeBron to take all the points.

Yes, Romney is a beneficiary of Santorum and Gingrich eating up each other’s votes, and it probably attributed massively to his strong victories in New Hampshire and Florida, you say. The populations of New Hampshire and Florida are moderate, a Romney stronghold, but so was Colorado, and he was defeated there, you say. You’ve almost got it—but then a crazy thought pops into your mind: “What if Gingrich was to drop out? With a Santorum charge, Gingrich could realize the mountain ahead of him, and then Romney would be shaking in his boots.”

So close. Oh, so close. Settle your mind down and face the facts, and you are there. Gingrich’s ego is not going anywhere. If you think for one second that the man, who, after a loss in Florida, outlined in his after-voting speech his exact to-do list on day one of his ‘presidency,’ is about to leave at this early stage, you are sorely mistaken. Gingrich has already moved his campaign to focus on southern states on Super Tuesday, a day in early March in which 10 states vote.

Now you have it. Romney is elated—his loss could turn out to be his biggest victory. Santorum’s surge revives his once-struggling campaign and ensures that Santorum will stay and compete with Gingrich for voters.

Mitt Romney’s campaign hasn’t gone this good, indirectly, since he ‘won’ the Iowa caucus—gaining all the momentum until the official recount named Santorum the winner. Maybe he should give some of his personal fortune to Gingrich and Santorum to ensure their campaigns’ longevity. Oh wait, now my head’s wrapped in the clouds—Romney’s about as close to giving away his personal fortune as Newt Gingrich’s ego is to go away. And that is not happenning anytime soon.