Since the majority of Catholics seem repulsed by Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum's
extreme version of Catholicism (a majority of Catholics support same sex marriage and a vast majority support the use of contraception), Santorum
has been forced by default to seek the support of Kool
-Aid drinking Protestant evangelical voters. The trouble is that (i) there are not enough of these loonies to elect him and (ii) the Christian Right is viewed negatively by the vast majority of non-Kool
-Aid drinkers. Thus, Santorum
has huge obstacles to overcome. Once again, I surprisingly find something to agree with in a new column by far right Michael Medved
in The Daily Beast
that notes the toxicity of evangelical Christians to most Americans. Here are some highlights:
As the GOP contenders try to recalibrate their campaigns in the wake of Super Tuesday, it ought to be obvious that Mitt Romney’s undeniable “Southern Problem” represents a far less serious challenge to his ultimate success than Rick Santorum’s deep difficulties with the 74 percent of the country that rejects the label “white, evangelical Christian.”
[I]f Senator Santorum somehow defied the odds and led the GOP ticket in the fall, he’d only amplify his current failure to build support in any electorate not dominated by born-again voters.
Ed Kilgore of the New Republic points out that five Southern states have voted so far, selecting a total of 258 delegates to the national convention, and Romney has won at least 115 of them, giving the lie to the notion that he enjoys no support in Dixie.
Moreover, none of the Southern states where Romney lost to Santorum or Gingrich represents a significant battleground for the fall campaign; any Republican should easily prevail against Barack Obama in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.
The crucial Southern swing states are those that McCain actually lost (Virginia and North Carolina) and nearly lost (Missouri)—and all three battlegrounds abound in the well-educated big city and suburban voters that connect most reliably with Romney and present profound problems for Rick Santorum.
The biggest obstacle to Rick Santorum’s general election success would be his consistent inability to gain traction in any electoral struggle not dominated by self-described “White evangelical/born-again Christians.” These voters represented 56 percent of the total caucus participants in Iowa, 74 percent in the Oklahoma primary, and 72 percent in Tennessee—the sites of Santorum’s three most significant victories to date. In Iowa, typically, he beat Romney by more than 2 to 1 among this majority of deeply committed Christians, but lost everyone else by nearly 3 to 1—producing a virtual tie with Romney. . . . On the far more significant issues of “the economy” and “the budget deficit” (selected by a combined 76 percent as top issues), Romney won decisively.
The point is that in major upcoming primaries (Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, California) Santorum will face a far less evangelical electorate than in the states in which he previously prevailed, and in the general election Democrats and independents will naturally flood the polling places, diluting the influence of Christian conservatives still further. With three quarters of overall voters telling exit pollsters they don’t consider themselves white born-again Christians, Santorum would somehow need to build support with religious groups he’s lost badly in the campaign so far. Even among his fellow Catholics, the former senator loses repeatedly to Romney (and to Gingrich), and with growing numbers of unaffiliated secularists (now estimated as 15 percent of the overall population) he fares much worse.
Santorum may attempt to emphasize economic issues over cultural concerns in a conscious effort to broaden his base, but it’s too late to change the distinctly religious nature of his campaign. . . . when the battle moves to less religiously committed corners of the country (especially in the fall campaign) his drive for the presidency will hit a wall—if not the traditional barrier separating church and state that he so energetically despises, then at least an impassable road block dividing his dreams of power from obvious political reality.
I believe that Medved's analysis is on target- even if he and I disagree on pretty much everything else - and that Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum's religious extremism will ultimately be the death of his campaign.