Romney’s huge PA mistake
The Romney team has made a huge rookie mistake in its election campaign. I have long said that no politician is ever helped by losing his home state in a primary. In the case of Rudy, I said he needed to drop out before NY because of the damage of losing it. I have had the same opinion, and continue to hold it. Santorum would have faced that pressure and the choice to job or our be meaningless no matter how Romney and his supporters played the situation.
However, Romney and his supporters made a serious error in making the problems of a loss explicit. They went further by getting their media allies to write nasty stories about how some folks in PA do not like Santorum. They made the story public that Santorum should drop out to avoid facing the problem of losing his home state. That was a major mistake because it has now (1) painted Santorum into a corner. If he dropps out it now looks the he is dropping out to avoid losing his home state. Therefore, Santorum now has every reason to fight hard and move on. (2) PA is demographically a state that Romney should win big. Were Romney to have written in off publically by simply saying this is Santorum’s home state and Santorum is popular there and I am sure he will win his home state, Romney would face nothing to lose. Romney could then have spent millions on positive ads and — even if he lost — have said he was campaigning for the general election and not against Santorum. Now, however, Romney has placed the focus on this race and the media story will be bad for Romney if he loses. (3) Romney is continuing to run negative against Santorum and has not yet started to run against Obama, a choice that is continuing to hurt him because he is spending most of his efforts driving up his own negatives with attacks on Santorum.