Archives: Ohio is Rick Santorum’s final chance

Originally published in March 2012
Simon Nguyen

Just as Michigan was Mitt Romney’s make-or-break moment, Ohio will be Rick Santorum’s Alamo. If Santorum loses the Buckeye State on Super Tuesday, his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination will suffer a fatal blow. Conversely, a victory here will help the former senator regain momentum and earn another shot at Romney.

On paper, Ohio appears tailored made for Santorum. The state is home to many social conservatives – the one group the former Pennsylvania senator has vigorously courted. Ohio’s large contingent of blue collar workers should also boost Santorum’s chances, since he has enjoyed success with this critical voting bloc.

Yet, momentum is clearly in Romney’s corner. The former Massachusetts governor has won five straight contests including the pivotal Michigan primary. As voters tend to be swayed by a candidate’s momentum, undecided Republicans may decide to throw their support to Romney to put a wrap on the nomination race.

Moreover, the Republican front-runner has been hitting Santorum hard on Ohio’s airwaves, replicating the successful tactic used against Newt Gingrich in Florida. Based on figures revealed by various Republican sources, Romney and his Super PACs are outspending Santorum and his allies in TV ads by almost 4 to 1.

Santorum’s tactical troubles are compounded by the fact he is facing an image problem. While his fervent focus on social issues has helped him gain favor with religious conservatives, it has alienated him from almost every other group. According to Arizona exit polls conducted by CNN, Romney handily beat Santorum in most voting groups.

To prevent this weakness from becoming a prevailing narrative, Santorum needs more than a win in Ohio. He will also need to win the state’s key voting blocs, such as women and Catholics, to prove his viability as a presidential candidate. The exit poll results from Ohio will be just as important as the final outcome.

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