Dear Mitt Romney: Get Your Act Together
Since launching his campaign, Mitt Romney has faced down surges from just about the entire “Anyone But Mitt” GOP crowd: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich (twice!). Now, it’s Rick Santorum’s turn; the latest national polls show the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania 5 to 10 points ahead of Romney. As Ross Douthat pointed out last night, Santorum rides a Huckabee-like line between social conservatism and economic populism that appeals to blue-collar Republican voters. Those are the exact voters that Romney, try as he like, can’t win over.
Romney’s best chances to recapture his momentum are the Michigan and Arizona primaries, which are next Tuesday. The former Massachusetts governor grew up in Michigan; his father was also a popular governor. Unfortunately, polls show him to be neck-and-neck with Santorum there. At the CNN debate tonight, look for him to try to smack down Santorum in person. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign and friendly Super PACs will continue to leverage their millions to pile on the former senator with TV attack ads.
Even if Romney does beat Santorum, he’s still facing another big problem: money. Cash — and the well-organized campaign that comes with it — has long been Romney’s biggest advantage. Unfortunately, he spent $18.8 million in January while raising $6.5 million; he only has $7.7 million left. Furthermore, as Nate Silver observed, Romney has struggled to earn small donations from voters; the majority of his money has come from donors who have already maxed-out at $2,500. If Romney can’t get regular Republican voters enthused enough to vote for him, let alone to give him cash, what are his general election prospects?
The Obama campaign, for reference’s sake, continues to hum along. At the end of January, he had $76 million in his campaign warchest. Or, 10 times as much as Romney had. Like I said: Mitt, get your act together.