I know they won’t do it, but the Romniac Republican Party establishment really, really needs to take a hard look at the county-by-county electoral map of Ohio at the right.
It shows that Rick Santorum (dark shaded counties) took 69 of Ohio’s 88 counties, while Mitt Romney took only 19.
I wrote yesterday at PJ Tatler that “the big question … is whether Rick Santorum’s huge advantages in rural counties and the ex-urbs will be enough to offset Mitt Romney’s smaller advantages in the more populous cities and nearer-in suburbs.” Answer: not quite (with disappointments in the ex-urbs), but the not-Romney majority of 62% of the vote and Romney’s virtual isolation from supporters of the other contenders demonstrate that Mitt Romney “won” nothing last night. Genuine conservatism (Gingrich and Santorum combined, plus a smidgeon of Paul) did. In fact, genuine conservatism kicked Mitt Romey’s butt.
Which takes us to the general. Looking at the map, if the election were held today, who has the better shot of beating Barack Obama?
Answer: Rick Santorum.
Why? That’s easy: He would pick up the vast majority of those who voted for Newt Gingrich last night, and probably the majority of Ron Paul’s. Santorum would also have the kind of enthusiastic support Mitt Romney will NEVER have.
Click on every county on the actual interactive map at this link. You will find that Mitt Romney did not achieve a majority in ANY of them. Not even Cuyahoga (49.3%), Franklin (41.1%), or Hamilton (48.9%), whose county seats are Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, respectively. And Romney couldn’t even win Lucas County (Toledo).
Meanwhile, Santorum took outright majorities in Jefferson (57.7%), Belmont, (51.7%), Monroe (50.6%), Van Wert (51.6%), and of all places, Athens (60.4%; Romney got less than 20%; does this performance in the county where Ohio University dominates reveal that Santorum can make serious headway with the youth vote in November?), while coming within a very few votes of a majority in several others.
The message: Santorum fires up the conservative base. Mitt Romney doesn’t.
Romney couldn’t even close the deal in the urban areas most affected by the carpet-bombing ads which shamelessly lied about Santorum’s record and are most dominated by hidebound RINOs. Romney won’t be able to outspend Obama, and can’t win if he doesn’t. Rick Santorum will obviously needs tons of money, but in my view he doesn’t have to outspend Obama to win Ohio.
UPDATE: Erick Ericksen –
(Romney is on track to be) the nominee having lost the South, Appalachia, evangelicals, conservatives, and blue collar voters. He will go into the general election deeply distrusted by his own base while having to woo independent voters. This is not a dazzling position to be in to beat an incumbent President.
Were I Mitt Romney I’d be wondering how I spent 5.5 times as much money as Rick Santorum and barely won Ohio. I’d be wondering who on my campaign staff gets fired first.
UPDATE 2: Steve Deace cuts to the chase all over the place. Concerning Ohio –
How can Romney win a general election when he can’t win primaries in battleground states like Ohio and Michigan without amassing overwhelming margins rolled up in counties that are overwhelmingly Democrat?
In certain cases in Ohio (see Lucas County and certain points east), he couldn’t even do that.