Imposition 2012-Santorum Sweep and the Evangelical Vote

   Last week in this space I opined that Senator Rick Santorum needed to sweep the Kansas caucus and the Mississippi and Alabama primaries to demonstrate his strength with the Republican base in the Solid South and in states that vote like Southern States. I also offered the suggestion that Mr. Romney would not win in any of these states but needed to finish no worse than second in any of them.

   Mr. Santorum won all three states. Mr. Romney finished not second but third among voters in the Mississippi and Alabama. Persons who identifed themselves as Evangelicals voted for Mr. Santorum over Mr. Romney by increasing margins according to how important they rated their religious values.

   Overnight, an Obama financed poll linked to the President's Two-Term Campaign showed, for the first time, the GOP candidate would win over him in November, regardless of which GOP candidate eventually emerges from the pack. Admittedly, other pollsters see a different end game but it is certain the President's approval rating among likely voters is slipping in each week that gasoline prices and food prices rise.

   People vote their pocket book. Get used to it.

   Mr. Santorum's most recent surge has some baldly negative strings attached to it. Among these, perhaps the two most fearful for the Santorum campaign are these, to wit: Mr. Gingrich is too prideful to quit and the race is running out of Southern states where Evangelicals make up a huge part of the voting public.

   Ahead is the state of Illinois. Mr. Romney will do better in Illinois, where Evangelicals are not the primary voting bloc. Mr. Obama can count on Illinois, as his home state, to be one place he runs most effectively in the general election. For now, Mr. Obama must hope the GOP voters expose more weaknesses for Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum, who are the only two figures who actually matter in the campaign any longer. Mr. Gingrich cannot win outside the South and does not figure to be more than a spoiler as the campaign moves West and North.

   By my math, Mr. Romney's delegate total, without the Republican super-delegates who can choose a candidate of their own liking regardless of who is the titular nominee, should reach the 1,144 level during the Texas primary. It is shocking to think Mr. Romney will take this long to reach the necessary delegate numbers after spending millions from his campaign and Super PAC and after running for the office for six years.

   Mr. Romney is a bad campaigner. This does not mean he would be a bad president but it does mean his path there will take him down a long and winding road. In the end, the state of the American economy, the real economy, where people work, buy homes and send their children to college, will determine who wins the race.

   And Evangelicals, who still turn out to vote and who most often vote for shared values, will certainly play a great part in the final decision.

   Dr. Todd Littleton, speaking for Southern Evangelicals in a recent Dallas Morning News article, said it this way:

   "Those who go for Romney who are in the evangelical bloc will have to overlook his Mormonism, which is problematic to them, simply because they are opposed to Obama on other grounds. For an evangelical, it becomes a weird conundrum."

   (Excerpted from the Dallas Morning News, "Long race puts evangelical bloc back at the fore," Tuesday, March 13, 2012, p. 8A).

   So, if Evangelicals are caught in this "weird conudrum," what is a good mainstream Christian to do?

   Well, we could start by understanding the issues at the core. When we ask people to vote issues over personal bias directed at the candidate himself, we enter the area where people have their eyes glaze over. However, actual substance may be the only way to decide this one.

   As to religion, Mr. Obama has left no more doubts about his Christian faith than Mr. Romney has left about his Mormonism, or for that matter, that Mr. Santorum has left about his Catholocism. If Evangelicals decide this election the basis of shared religious values, Mr. Obama wins.

   However, Mr. Obama loses on the recent flap in which his administration insisted employers provide access to contraception for women in their health insurance policies. Values Voters fear this is an open door to funding abortion services, to which they remain overwhelmingly opposed in theory if not in practice.

   If Middle Class reinvigoration is the key to the campaign, Mr. Obama wins with his March Madness bracketology over Mr. Romney's assertion that various Nascar and NFL tean owners are his friends and peers. Mr. Romney makes himself look like an out of touch elitist, one of those fellows born on third base and awarded home plate when he says these things. However, his comments are mostly illustrative of the fact he is out of touch. He has not had the American experiene of being born in the working class and working his way up the ladder. If it comes down to the American story, Mr. Obama wins.

   If, however, the race comes down to the kind of Taxamageddon many America watchers believe is coming in 2013 and beyond, Mr. Obama will bear the bulk of the blame. Granted, Mr. Obama inherited much of this mess from another Silver Spooner, Mr. Bush II and has been effective in putting off the huge tax raises some see on the horizon until after the election but, please remember, Mr. Bush I, lost to a Southern governor quite because he could not pull the nation out of its long 1980's Recession, even though there were signs of recovery already in place before the election  1990 election. It is aintsobad's historical belief that people vote their pocket book in the now when things are difficult and are more likely to vote for a change only when things are only mildly recovering and doom is on the next rise.

   If Americans look at the enormous tax increases just up ahead and how the much bally-hooed 1% must be super taxed to make a difference in the deficit, one sees just how important this election is to the shrinking American middle class.

   I do not think America will vote against Mr. Obama because of his ethnicity but I do not think for one minute Mr. Romney/Santorum will engender any great sympathy because of their ethnicity, either. This election will not be decided on the basis  of race.

   So, it may come down to religion.

   And, for all of the candidates, there is some serious baggage there.

 

Opinions expressed here are mine alone.

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