Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hello I am Spongebob...

...and this is opposite day. When I woke up this morning, I did not expect to see that Rick Santorum had won the caucuses/primaries in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado yesterday. Even more amazing (at least to me) is that Mitt Romney came in third in Minnesota, a state that he won in 2008 and competed for this year. For Santorum, yesterday’s wins mean that he has changed the narrative about Romney’s frontrunner status, but the Republican primaries also raise interesting questions about the underlying legal regime that serve as a backdrop to these contests.

For example, Romney is extremely well-funded, both as a candidate and through a pro-Romney SuperPAC. He outspent Gingrich 5-1 in Florida, and won the state by 14 percentage points. Many blame this huge influx of money into the Republican primary and the rise of SuperPACs on Citizens United, and there is some truth to that. As we all know, money matters and the more money one can raise, even from corporate donors through unaffiliated, pro-you SuperPACs, the better your chances of winning the election. But Romney lost all three contests yesterday, despite his resources and despite the fact that he had hoped to win Minnesota and had spent money there. He lost to a candidate who is a pauper by comparison. Santorum had limited resources, but he spent time in each state, shaking hands and talking to voters.

So yes, it is certainly true that money in elections matters; that having organization and boots on the ground matter….but I still like to think that yesterday’s contests show that if the voters don’t like you, you won’t win. Although I feel for Romney given that this is his second bite at the apple, I do find it somewhat reassuring that the voters still have some say in this process.

Or it could just be that voter turnout was down yesterday and that increased Santorum’s chances of winning. Either way, I would rather believe in the system. Yay democracy!

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