Friday, December 19, 2014

Resilient Rick

Santorum's staying power is a mystery to many; here we examine that mystery closely.

Resilient Rick

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

BE: I've been telling you from the start that my man Rick has heart and YOU said he'd never last past Iowa. And yet, here's what he did in Mitt's home state with far less money and organization.

Results for Michigan Republican Primary (U.S. Presidential Primary)
Feb 28, 2012 (>99% of precincts reporting)
Mitt Romney 410,517 41.1%
Rick Santorum 378,124 37.9%
Ron Paul 115,956 11.6%
Newt Gingrich 65,093 6.5%
Other 29,152 2.9%
Source: AP

JB: What can I say, boss, except how do you do it?

BE: Seriously, can you help explain Rick's resilience?

JB: I think so. Let's agree the process isn't what it used to be, that it's influenced more by social media and by 24/7 broadcast media and by the fact there's no real party structure dictating outcomes.

BE: Seems about right.

JB: Then let's look at the unique combination of angry Limbaugh/Fox News voters and faith-based Christian conservatives not inclined to support a rich Mormon who can't stop stumbling over gaffes about his own wealth.

BE: Pretty well describes the GOP primary voter in lots of states outside the Northeast.

JB: And Santorum plays almost perfectly to that voter. He's angrier than Mitt. He puts his faith first. And he never talks about things such as his own wealth -- nowhere near Mitt's -- that separate him from the average person.

BE: Aha. But he does say things such as Obama's a "snob" who believes in a "phony theology" and that JFK's famous speech promoting the constitutional separation of church and state made him want to vomit.

JB: And what happens? The leftie media go nuts and Rick's base is further riled in his favor.

BE: His shoot-from-lip is part of the plan.

JB: Right. At a minimum it offers contrast to Robo-Mitt, shows fire in the belly and allows Rick the same distance from the elite media that Newt effectively strikes.

BE: So his resilience is due to unique circumstances that favor him, an ability to connect with a big portion of the GOP primary vote and an opponent who lacks the ability to connect with that same portion.

JB: Yeah. But in the end he won't be the party nominee. The gender gap he'd create would hand the election to Obama.

BE: We'll see, JB, we'll see. Remember, you've been wrong before.

JB: Don't remind me. Grrrrr.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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