Political Animal


March 19, 2012 11:57 AM Rick’s Car Breaks Down in a Bad Neighborhood

By Ed Kilgore

Unless PPP’s latest survey of the state is uncharacteristically way off, Rick Santorum is cruisin’ for a real bruisin’ in tomorrow’s Illinois primary. It shows Romney up 45-30, with Santorum running out of time and not having the money to compete in the state’s expensive media markets. But more than anything else, Illinois is just a bad state for Rick, despite its superficial reputation as a blue-collar midwestern jurisdiction near places (Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan and Ohio) where Santorum has run well.

As PPP shows, IL is a state where “somewhat conservative” voters outnumber “very conservative” voters; evangelicals are only 36% of the likely voters; and rural voters are outnumbered by more than two-to-one. Worse yet for Rick, it’s a place where fully a fourth of Republican voters think Obama’s a Christian and as many say he was born in the USA as say he wasn’t; where nearly half believe in evolution and three-fourths think race-mixin’ should be legal.

And as PPP’s analysis indicates, even in the demographic categories where he does well, Santorum’s support is slipping from previous performances. When you combine these two factors, it can be devastating. In OH, for example, evangelicals made up 47% of the primary electorate and Rick won them by 18 points. PPP shows them at 36% in IL, and Santorum leads only by 10.

I haven’t seen any consolidated analysis of spending in IL, but it looks like Team Santorum is getting massively outspent (something on the order of 10-1) by Team Romney.

Thanks to the decision of MO Republicans not to hold a straw poll at its caucuses on Saturday (along with some apparent Romney-Paul tactical alliances on the ground), Santorum will have to wait until next Saturday’s primary in Louisiana for any sort of boost. He’s not, it appears, close enough in IL to get much traction from beating expectations and keeping the results in suspense until most of the news media stories have already been filed. Indeed, as a big fat Politico piece today filled with endless complaining about Romney’s campaign from Illinois pols indicates, Rick may actually be on the wrong side of the expectations game this time around.

Santorum and his backers can only hope Mitt pulls off one of his patented pre-primary gaffes in IL—maybe simultaneously disrespecting the Cubs and the White Sox, or thanking donors for protecting his kids’ trust funds, or comparing his hair to Blago’s or something. Otherwise, Rick just needs to take his bad beating and move on, hoping the MSM doesn’t suddenly decide it’s all over.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • DAY on March 19, 2012 12:11 PM:

    " Rick just needs to move on, hoping the MSM doesnít suddenly decide itís all over."

    Not to worry; the MSM needs a horse race, lest they have to get off their lazy butts, and do some actual reporting.
    (They are already searching the weeds, looking for juicy stories of delegate challenges in Tampa)

  • Quaker in a Basement on March 19, 2012 12:17 PM:

    I don't want to see Santorum beaten too badly in Illinois.

    That might discourage him from sticking around long enough to suffer an endless series of repudiations.

  • slappy magoo on March 19, 2012 12:26 PM:

    "Worse yet for Rick, itís a place where fully a fourth of Republican voters think Obamaís a Christian and as many say he was born in the USA as say he wasnít; where nearly half believe in evolution and three-fourths think race-mixiní should be legal."



  • Barb on March 19, 2012 12:30 PM:

    I live in a northwest suburb of Chicago and am swamped by Romney robocalls from Barbara Bush, Ann Romney, somebody named Mike...all slamming Rick Santorum...nothing positive about Romney. We've been getting 5-7 of these a day since last week, and even if I were so inclined I wouldn't vote for him because of this overkill. Haven't received a single call from anyone else except l call for a Democratic candidate for Congress. If this is an example of his spending, Romney is just drowning everyone else here in Illinois.

  • Paul Dirks on March 19, 2012 12:40 PM:

    Cook Co is 100% Obama
    Lake and DuPage Counties are 100% Romney
    The entire rest of the State = 100% Santorum.

    Unfortunately that's where the population density drops abruptly to approximately zero.

  • Varecia on March 19, 2012 2:39 PM:

    Paul, are you sure that McHenry Co. and DeKalb Co. fall into the 100% Santorum category? Both have seen tremendous growth, and I wouldn't even take Winnebago Co. for granted.