(Red Right Returning, a nautical mnemonic for the side of the buoy or marker on which to pilot a ship in order to stay in the channel, is a look back at the activity of the past week of the Republican candidates in the 2012 primary. Feel free to voice your opinions in the comment section.)
As falls Whichita…so the saying goes. I had originally started a RRR post for Kansas, Wyoming, and the US territories but I’m traveling at the moment and the Kansas, Wyoming, US territories seem pretty cut and dried. The US Territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands and the Marshall Islands generally go for whomever the Republican standard is. Wyoming seemed a lock given the previous primary and most pollsters have predicted a win for Rick Santorum in Kansas and indeed he got a decisive, if not massive win there. Kansas is a heavily evangelical state and in keeping with the other contests that are playing out in the Midwest, Kansas joined the rest of the middle of the country states that voted for Santorum.
You’re not alone if you’ve detected a pattern in the contests that have occurred so far. Rick Santorum is cleaning up a swath in the middle of the nation while Newt is gathering up a few deep south states leaving Mitt Romney with the East Coast/West Coast gangs.
This is an interesting dichotomy in that it mirrors the current red/blue split between liberals and conservatives. Liberals are generally coastal states and conservatives seem to be the ‘flyover’ states in between. But within the Republican party it seems that the split has occurred even further to the right. Moderate Republicans appear to have taken the coastal areas while Santorum evangelicals occupy the flyover states and Newt Gingrich is representing the extreme, southern, Mormon-mistrusting right.
Ultimately, Newt Gingrich is what this week is about. Mississippi and Alabama, two of the original Super Tuesday states, hold primaries on Tuesday. Conventional wisdom and polling says that these two states are good bets for Gingrich given his wins in Georgia and South Carolina. At least that’s what the Gingrich campaign is banking on anyway. They knew they would win Georgia last week and they are hoping that translates into momentum for the other southern states that are coming up (including Texas with over 150 delegates on April 3rd).
But here’s the thing; evangelicals aren’t fooled that easily. Gingrich’s past will doom his chances in the other southern states. Newt had a home field advantage in Georgia and he had an anti-Romney advantage in South Carolina but those days are over (I suspect if South Carolina were to vote again, you’d get a different result).
God may forgive Newt for his past indiscretions but voters aren’t obligated to do so. Alabama and Mississippi take their evangelical positions very seriously (trust me: I was born in Alabama). Neither state likes Romneybot 3000 nor do they trust Newt Gingrich. They may not be thrilled with Santorum but I suspect southern voters will ultimately ask themselves at the voting booth, ‘who would Jesus vote for’? I predict that Rick Santorum will do well in these two extremely red and religious states.
Newt Gingrich is finished in the Republican primary. I’m guessing that even his billionaire benefactor knows this but; being a casino owner, I’m guessing that even he knows that betting on a losing pony is sometimes a winning gamble.