Rick Santorum had a good weekend, having won the Kansas caucus comfortably with over fifty per cent of the vote, and coming a strong second in Wyoming. With a disappointing Super Tuesday for Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich coming under increased pressure from the Santorum campaign to drop out, it looks like the GOP nomination race will develop into a two-man race. Unfortunately for Republicans, this race is between a moderate who enacted an early version of Obamacare and whose opinion on almost anything is a moveable feast, and a strict social conservative who does not seem to understand the American political tradition.
Santorum cannot win over moderates, and Romney cannot win over the socially conservative base. While it does look like Romney will be able to claim close victories tomorrow in Mississippi and Alabama they will hardly be convincing or of much reassurance. Republicans cannot win without the south, and the polling data shows both Mississippi and Alabama to be evenly divided between Romney and Santorum supporters. These sorts of divisions in a primary contest should worry Republican strategists. While it is very unlikely that Obama could win Alabama or Mississippi in November, the uncertainty of conservatives in these states is telling. In 2008, Mississippi overwhelmingly voted for John McCain in the primary, and while most votes in the 2008 Alabama primary did go to Mike Huckabee, the level of confidence in John McCain was much higher than current support for Romney or Santorum.
Whatever the outcomes of tomorrow’s contests it looks unlikely that a nominee will be decided soon.