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Romney vs Santorum: Who Would Perform Best Against Obama and Why?

Many arguments can be made as to who’s the stronger candidate to face President Obama and why, whether it’s Willard M. Romney’s name recognition and Moderate image or Richard J. Santorum’s appeal to the pivotal base of support that is the grassroots activists. I will be looking at the electoral aspects of their strengths, where, and why they would perform strongest.

WM Romney’s Strengths:

New England-Home to none other than Mitt Romney himself, New England is obviously and unarguably going to be his sole strength. He will play well with the Moderates/Independents, which constitute the majority of voters up here(minus Vermont) and fiscally oriented Conservatives. If he’s the nominee, he would put away New Hampshire, give Obama a serious fight for his money in Maine, and stand a decent shot in Connecticut. Santorum, however, would lose Connecticut in a landslide, be in a slightly weaker position in Maine, and probably still be ahead in New Hampshire. While Santorum would play well with the aforementioned fiscally oriented Conservatives and Independents, he wouldn’t play terribly well with the Moderates.

RJ Santorum’s Strengths:

Midwest-An anchor of Conservatism, the Midwest is likely to vote for the GOP nominee regardless. That said, Santorum has a better chance of turning out the Conservative voters than does Romney. A Romney vs Obama race could well dampen turnout(as did McCain vs Obama in 2008) and put Missouri, the Dakotas, and Nebraska’s Second Congressional district in play, as the district went to Obama in 2008.

Old Confederacy-The biggest anchor of Conservatism since Oklahoma, both candidates should be expected to do well here, right? Not so. The Old Confederacy, more than anywhere else, would be a problem spot for the Moderate Romney. Why? In 2008, John McCain underperformed across the board(losing Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia in the process) because of a rightly perceived Moderate streak running straight through his legislative record. Such would be about the same for Romney, except with more of a Moderate record plus the radical inconsistencies in what he says on a day to day basis, he would be in worse shape than McCain was(losing Georgia and possibly Texas and South Carolina in the process).

Rocky Mountains-With the exceptions of Colorado and New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains are a hotbed of Conservatism. Considering Obama’s approvals as of late, either candidate would stand a chance against Obama in the two swingy states and rake in landslide victories in the others. That said, Conservatives will be less inclined to get out and vote if the Moderate candidate Romney(like John McCain in 2008 and Bob Dole in 1996) is the nominee, while they will turn out big time if the Conservative candidate Santorum is the nominee.

Equal Strengths:

Great Lakes-The Great Lakes states[minus Illinois(Democrat), Indiana(Republican), and New York(Democrat)] will be by and far the most hotly contested region in the entire country in the upcoming Presidential race. Several factors will influence the end result, such as high unemployment, Obama’s flagging approvals, and the ongoing war against public-sector unions. If the union busting is successful, unemployment is high, and Obama’s approvals continue to flag, then it does not matter if the nominee is Romney or Santorum, as either will win handily. But if the inverse happens, then Romney would have to be considered the best bet to defeat Obama. If the latter circumstances transpire, even Romney would face long odds.

Pacific Northwest-The Pacific Northwest has tended toward favoring Liberalism in the past few decades. Oregon may be within reach if my predicted Presidential numbers by Congressional district averages pan out(resulting in a 49.8%-49.4% GOP victory), and Washington is definitely within reach for two reasons. (1) The President has registered negative approval ratings in Washington State, and (2) state Attorney General Rob McKenna is poised for a landslide victory in the Governors race, which may provide coattails for either Romney or Santorum.

These are my views on how either candidate will perform in the various regions, and I would like to hear yours in the comments.

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