You’ve Tried The Rest Now Try The Vest

While my beloved Tampa Bay Lightning were putting on their sweaters in preparation for what would be a heartbreaking loss at home, another warrior halfway across the country was putting on a sweater vest for what would be an unexpected hat trick. GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum shocked the country yesterday by winning primaries or caucuses in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. The question of whether Republican primary voters would abandon their flirtation with the mushy middle appears to have been answered.

 

For some time now primary voters seemed to be following the William F. Buckley rule that you nominate the most conservative candidate who can win. Conventional wisdom has, up till now, held that this candidate was Mitt Romney. The thought was that only Mitt Romney could attract the independent voters required to win a close general election and polling data appeared to back this up. The assumption was also that these independent voters were mostly moderates and that a true conservative candidate could not connect with these voters. Only a liberal Republican could entice these voters to pull the lever for the GOP in the general election.

I believe that this thinking is flawed and that most independents are actually undocumented Republicans or Democrats fleeing the party due to its extreme liberal positions on almost every issue. I guess we’ll find out if I’m right come November. In any case, it appears that the GOP electorate in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota may have come to the same conclusion as I in regards to the independent vote, which is that most of the independents will fall in line behind the eventual GOP nominee as long as he can differentiate himself from President Obama. That being the case, it makes sense to vote for the most conservative candidate available. This appears to be Rick Santorum. Questions surrounding Mitt Romney’s conservative credentials probably had much to do with the outcome since many conservatives regard him as a liberal with no clear delineation between himself and President Obama. Also in this mix and a likely decision driver is the memory of Bob Dole and John McCain, both moderates, losing to their Democrat opponents in the general election. “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss” just isn’t going to fly this time around as voters are looking for a bold alternative to Obama.

Mr. Romney’s campaign appears to be cratering and he no longer looks like a lock for the nomination. Newt Gingrich’s fortunes appear to be fading fast also as his campaign falls into disarray. Polling now indicates that Mitt Romney would lose against Obama in the general election and that Rick Santorum would win by a slim margin. More and more it looks like Santorum is the most conservative candidate and that he can in fact win.

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