Tim Stanley: Mitt Romney has only himself to blame for Rick Santorum's Midwest breakthrough
RICK Santorum's breakthrough victories across the Midwest have been predicted for days, but no one knew they’d be this big. The results speak to Santorum’s hidden strengths and Romney’s glaring weaknesses – with a growing emphasis on the latter.
Santorum broke through with a mix of luck and hard work. Newt Gingrich failed to file for the Missouri vote, which meant that Santorum was able to run as the only anti-Mitt candidate. This was the first chance that we’ve had to measure the true power of the Anybody But Romney coalition because this was the first time that only one orthodox conservative was running. Given that Santorum won by a 30 percent margin in Missouri, we have to ask – what would have happened if the Right had coalesced around him earlier?
Santorum was also smart to ignore Florida and Nevada, which allowed him to pour time and money into Tuesday’s contests while nobody was looking. No other candidate matched him for energy because, technically, these votes don’t produce any delegates. David Wiegel of Slate sums up the scenario thusly, “In other words, no candidate bothered to hit Santorum in three state contests that didn't count. But the political press corps, some members of which are being billed $2000 per day to ride charters with Santorum, has to cover something. It's going to cover the Santorum Surge, Mark II.”