This is be a quick note to alert you to the Louisiana primary tonight….I’ll have more on Monday as a prelude to the “Not as Super as Super Tuesday But Still 200+ Delegates at Stake” contests upcoming next week, featuring Texas, Wisconsin and Maryland.
The big news this week was this comment by Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, when asked on CNN whether the constant pandering to the far right in the primary season would hurt Romney in the general election:
“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch-A-Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all of over again.”
Oh my. Like any good gaffe, essentially it illuminates an inner truth, or at the very least reinforces an uncomfortable perception about the candidate, in this case that Romney has no core and creates a new persona for each electorate he seeks to win over. A great example of this was Rick Perry’s 53-second debate meltdown in trying to name a third agency he would eliminate. That was a perfect gaffe, reinforcing the perception that he was an intellectual lightweight,and it drove him out of the campaign. This one was not quite as good – Romney himself did not say it – but it sure led to lots of Etch-a-Sketches being bandied about by Gingrich and Santorum on the campaign trail (not to mention a huge bump in Etch-A-Sketch sales). This one will live on.
Louisiana should go for Santorum comfortably. He’s been up in the recent polls by 12-16 points and the state is, of course, a southern state, a geography that Romney has yet to crack, apart from Florida. Santorum is at roughly 40 % in the polls to Romney’s high-20’s, with Gingrich in the high teens. At one time Gingrich must have considered this a must-win, but now Gingrich is only slightly more relevant than Ron Paul, consigned to picking up a delegate or two here and there to increase whatever leverage they might have at the convention. This leverage could be spent on a speech slot, a certain stance on the platform, a political position, or, in Gingrich’s best case scenario, to deny Romney a first-ballot win and opening up the convention to an alternative. This is increasingly looking like a pipe-dream…at this point I’d say the odds are very good Romney will indeed get the required 1,144 committed delegates within the primary process to lock up the nomination.
There is no real news here if Santorum wins…the war of attrition continues. Because Louisiana is a “proportional” allocation primary, Romney will still pick up delegates, and the net gain for Santorum will be very unimpressive compared to the 300+ delegate gap he has versus Romney. Romney has picked up at least one delegate in every contest so far except Minnesota…that’s 30 out of 31 contests. Santorum has been shut out 12 times. That matters.
Obviously if Romney wins, that would be huge news. Any breakthrough in the south would truly end it, in spirit if not in fact. As long as Santorum keeps winning in the south, though, the saga continues…particularly if he adds Texas and Wisconsin next Tuesday.
If anyone wants to do the projections, let me know by 6 PM! Polls close at 9 PM EST….
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