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Election Notes: Santorum Wins

Rick Santorum beat Mitt Romney in all three Republican contests on Tuesday. Santorum won by sizable margins in both Missouri and Minnesota—where Romney came in third behind Ron Paul—although Missouri was a non-binding “beauty contest” with no delegates at stake. Santorum also won Colorado, a key swing state where the demographics were thought to favor Romney, by five points. Newt Gingrich meanwhile didn’t win more than 13% in either of the two states where he was on the ballot.

Tuesday’s results obviously cast doubt on whether Romney can win the nomination. At the very least, as Nate Silver says, we are probably in for a prolonged nomination fight. Romney has been unable to win any of the three Midwestern contests so far (although he did come close to winning Iowa), and doesn’t do well with evangelical or Tea Party Republicans. It’s easy to forget that he won Nevada handily just a few days ago. He also has more money and a better organization than Santorum, as well as sizable leads in upcoming states like Michigan and Arizona. That's why traders at Intrade still give Romney a nearly 80% chance to win the nomination. That’s down 9 points from last week, but it's still a lot more than the 10% chance they give Santorum.

Obama’s chances of winning the general election, meanwhile, have been quietly improving, with the traders at Intrade giving him a 61% winning in the fall. That’s up 6 points since last week and up 10 points since the beginning of the year. Polls now give Obama five point advantage over Romney in a head-to-head matchup. That probably has a lot to do with the recent news that unemployment fell in January to 8.3%, which is the lowest it has been since just after Obama took office. In addition, turnout in the Republican nominating contests continues to be down, which as I wrote last week probably reflects a general lack of enthusiasm among Republican voters.

Political Futures Markets

Chance President Obama will win reelection: 61.3% (Intrade)

Chance Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination: 79.7% (Intrade)

Chance that Republicans will win control of the Senate: 75.0% (Intrade)

Chance that Republicans will maintain control of the House: 67.0% (Intrade)

Polls

President Obama’s approval rating: 46.8% (Pollster)

Mitt Romney’s favorable rating: 32.8% (Pollster)

Democratic advantage on a generic congressional ballot: 2.0% (Real Clear Politics)

Comment

I don’t stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney. I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama.”—Rick Santorum

UP NEXT: the Maine Caucus on Saturday, February 11

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

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