Monday, February 20, 2012

Steve Deace’s False Analysis on the Rick Santorum Campaign

It’s pretty hilarious to watch Newt’s most ardent supporters spin the primary in every angle possible in a desperate attempt to provide Newt’s dying campaign with some much-needed oxygen.

Steve Deace is an Iowan talk-show host whose endorsement for Newt Gingrich prior to the Iowa caucus was seen as the ultimate signal of an upcoming Newt victory. Steve had spent the weeks prior to the caucus pumping Newt via his radio show, weekly columns, interviews and social media. On twitter, his daily predictions the last week before the caucus showed an increasingly strengthening of Newt and weakening of Santorum with Romney leading the pack despite it having been obvious at that point to most of us that we were witnessing a Newt decline and a Santorum rise.

Steve Deace is also the talk-show host who had helped undermine Herman Cain’s credibility at a time when there was no evidence against him. Steve accused him of having said inappropriate comments to his staff yet refused to disclose what those comments were. His claims caused Cain significant damage since this was a prominent conservative speaking out against a fellow conservative.

Steve had written an analysis on the state of the primary on Townhall titled Michigan: Mitt Romney's Waterloo? Most of the article consists of the valid reasoning that Romney must win Michigan since it’s his former home state and his father had been a popular Governor there, or else. A Santorum win, he wrote, will deliver a “mortal wound to Romney’s Candidacy while also taking a giant step towards eventually securing the nomination for [Santorum].” Indeed, Michigan ending up as Romney’s Waterloo is a very possible outcome if Santorum wins.

The remainder of his article, though, was quite puzzling and incomprehensible except when taking into consideration that he’s probably attempting to create a positive spin for Newt. He argues that Michigan “is likely Santorum’s one and only chance to win the nomination” and that if Santorum fails to lock in a victory it once again opens the window for Newt just as Newt’s failure in Florida opened the window for Santorum in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado.

Furthermore, Steve blamed Newt’s failure in Florida after his victory in South Carolina on the ten-day span between the two primaries, arguing that Newt didn’t have enough time to orchestrate a rise. Santorum, on the other hand, has a full three weeks between his previous victories and the Michigan primary and he can use this time to put forth a strong campaign.

Steve’s reasoning is seriously flawed and for several reasons:

Firstly, a Romney victory in Michigan is extremely crucial, as Steve himself pointed out, because this is a state he’s been expected to win without any difficulties at all. He grew up there and his father was a beloved Governor. A Romney loss would be his Waterloo because it should be and is so difficult for any other candidate to beat Romney in his own hometown.

So if it’s usually impossible to beat a candidate in his hometown and a Santorum victory would be a stunning upset, then how can a Santorum loss in Michigan suddenly become a Santorum Waterloo? It isn’t Santorum’s home state and Santorum doesn’t have the many advantages Romney does. There were no expectations for Michigan to go to anyone but Romney.

Secondly, Newt’s landslide loss in Florida hadn’t come because of a lack of time and if one wants to blame the clock then he clearly had too much time. Newt had surged into Florida after his South Carolina and led Romney with double digits. If the elections had been three days later he would’ve probably continued his momentum ride from South Carolina and won Florida.

However, he instead faced a ten-day interim during which the Romney attacks and personal fire exchanged between the two camps caused his favorability to drop with each successive day and ultimately led to his defeat. Just as there was time to fall, there was time to rise. As an aside, we are now almost two weeks post Santorum’s three stunning victories and he’s still leading over Romney in Michigan.

Thirdly, Newt’s loss in Florida, although it weakened his campaign, was not the act had caused his stunning plunge. Newt poll figures in Nevada, which voted a few days after Florida, hadn’t changed much from before the Florida primary to afterwards. Newt ended up coming in a strong second in Nevada, as predicted, despite his Florida loss.

Newt’s reaction to his Nevada loss, though, had resulted in a mass exodus of conservative support. Instead of graciously admitting defeat and congratulating Romney, he called a press-conference the midnight after the Nevada primary where he ranted against those suggesting he leave the field (a suggestion which was born because of his strange decision to hold a press-conference and not a speech). He appeared ready to explode and his manner was almost suicidal. Americans were disgusted and turned off by his tantrum and chose to abandon Newt because of his own actions.

Unlike Newt, Santorum has stuck to the issues of the day and kept his cool and dignity at all times. A Santorum loss in Michigan won’t be seen as a failure of Santorum and a signal to turn to Newt once again. Everything is possible including another Newt rise. However, if Newt rises it won’t be a direct result of a Santorum loss in Michigan. A Santorum loss in Michigan will rather be understood in the context that Romney won his home-state where he had many advantages and is the case the majority of the time.

The stronger Santorum will do in Michigan, the stronger he will appear. If Romney barely ekes out a victory in his hometown, that will hint at the strength of Santorum, the weakness of Romney, and nothing about Newt.

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