Santorum tops Republican Aspirants in Alabama and Mississippi: Why a candidate's campaign message matters?


Keywords or Terms: Rick Santorum; Alabama and Mississippi Primaries; American Samoan and Hawaii Caucuses; Newt Gingrich; Mitt Romney; Southern Republican Voters; and, Alternative Strategy to win Conservative Republican Votes in the South

Today’s primaries and caucuses  in Alabama, Mississippi, American Samoa and Hawaii may serve as a wake up call to Mitt Romney; or a reaffirmation of the true and tested: A North-Eastern ‘Not-So-Conservative’ Republican can hardly do well with the blue color southern white voters. As such, Santorum’s message of social conservativeness is perhaps more attuned to this group; and probably resonates better. The disaffection for Mitt Romney’s brand of conservatism serves as a challenge for his campaign managers and political advisers or undertakers; and, will remain as such, except the team(s) is able to salvage Romney's brand in the South.

For now, not only do Santorum’s successes in Alabama and Mississippi primaries highlight the suspected missive by pollster regarding the deep south, they give Mitt Romney another opportunity to think about his options if he is going to tie up the Republican nomination soonest; and, work the ropes to garner the support of Republican voters in the south. Further, the possibility of shared caucuses’ results from American Samoan and Hawaii will open up another debate: Can a candidate’s religion play into politics and vise- verse? There are a number of Mormon voters in both American Samoan and Hawaii and this may give Mitt Romney an edge over his closest competitors; however, this hardly guarantees that he will take home all the delegates from these states. In addition, the results of primaries from Alabama and Mississippi indicate that Newt Gingrich campaign for the Republican nomination is moribund, if even he does not want to believe it.

Overwhelming, southerners in Alabama and Mississippi voted against Mitt Romney. The lackluster message of Newt Gingrich, who lost two States close to his home state, Georgia, is a narrative that says, Santorum stands a better chance to win the Southern voters than Newt Gingrich or Mitt Romney. Did I hear a brokered Republican Conventions? Probably not, but there are some rough roads ahead for Mitt Romney and it may just be difficult for him to tie up the nomination before the convention in Tampa, Florida. The reality is, the Southern voters are unwilling to vote for the ultimate Republican nominee for whatever reason that is out there. These group(s) of voters may choose to stay home and not vote in the general elections either as a protest or because they still hold ingrained hostility to Mitt Romney's candidacy. The sentiments that remain true today is, the Southern White, blue color workers, who make less that $30,000, are very pragmatic and vote populist Republican. This group will present the greatest challenge for Mitt Romney all over the nation, just the way this group has been tonight in the south.

Santorum’s campaign successes are perhaps better than Mitt Romney with voters in States like Kansas, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi because of the resistance of Republican voters who perceive Romney as a rich kid with Harvard law degree, who is faking the perception that he is one of them when in actual fact, he is far away from this group in terms of the reality of everyday life. The inhibiting variables for Romney's candidature among this group is not limited to his wealth, there is the possibility that this group hardly share a conviction in Romney’s religion or political message. The passive resistance to Mitt Romney can be found in the missive that he is less ideologically conservative enough for them.

Yes, the results in American Samoan and Hawaii may be more favorable to Mitt Romney because of the larger Mormon residents in American Samoan or Hawaii, but the same has impeded him somewhat in those southern states he has lost. Religion affiliation still matters with group(s) of voters in the South, no matter how anyone will like to paper over it. The South has moved more to the right than any political strategist, candidate or campaign manager may have envisaged. To corroborate this arguement, there are some of these Southern Evangelical Conservative Republicans who still believe that President Obama is a Muslim, which he is not; and some of them who are still singing the 'birther's  doctrine', President Obama was not born in the United States of America, a far cry from the truth and reality.

What is the heart of the matter for Romney’s loses in the South as of today? The actual reason or meaning depends on what strategy his campaign follows henceforth: either gets into mud-sling once more in order to overcome Santorum’s current resurgence and popularity; or, stick with his previous strategy and accept the fact that he is not a favorite of some Southern Republican voters or or majority of Conservative Republican Americans. To regain the initiative, he may have to capitulate and offer some promises to the conservative voters all across the nation. On the other hand, Romney may choose to stay on his message, accept the fact that he is lackluster with many Southern Conservative Christians and select a southern politician that may bolster his position with this group or other Republican Conservatives across the nation who have issues with his conservative brand. Although it is already common knowledge that Mitt Romney is considered not much of a conservative with many Republicans in the Tea Party, a prototype of Southern Republican voters, his inability to connect with this group are not limited to the conservative issues, they are found in his record at Massachusetts and his flip flopping.

Mitt Romney has experienced a challenge since his success in Florida Primary. He has distant his campaign messages from fellow Republican competitors and directed them against President Obama. It may have been a great strategy if he was on solid grounds with all the Republican voters or majority of them, in different regions of the country; however, he has not been. This fact is borne out by the primary results from Alabama, Mississippi and other states he has lost to Rick Santroum. With heart and soul, Santorum has been able to perturb Mitt Romney campaign; because he represents the conservative wing of the Republican Party who believe Mitt Romney is too flaky. No one could have imagined that former Senator Rick Santorum would be the greatest hurdle to his nomination ambition about six months ago. It is now time for Mitt Romney to step back and attempt to show some understanding of the results from across the south: Money alone cannot buy a politician favor all the time! There are times that a politician must understand that a very bad night like tonight for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, is a teachable moment.

Mitt Romney’s inability to connect with the Conservative Republicans, especially with the blue-color evangelical group and or Tea Party faction, creates a doubt and makes supporters and donors of his, in at ease. Mitt Romney may not be able to reach the 1144 needed by the convention time, except he works more insistently and doubly on his campaign messages to the conservative Republicans, especially the evangelical Christians, and probably so with the independents. At first, Mitt Romney must find an alternative to his country club membership image; and, link his new choice of voter's attraction effort with some of the social conservative messages espoused by Rick Santorum, without necessarily encroaching on Santorum’s complete position on these issues.

Today, it is important to appreciate that Rick Santorum’s message resonates well with this group, who consider themselves true republicans. This new strategy will more likely allow Mitt Romney to connect to some of these conservatives who have received him with less enthusiasm. Further, he must implement a message that confronts Rick Santorum directly every time there is a contest henceforth. To ignore this reality, to continue to direct his weak attack on the President of the United States, may not be really as important as damaging the chances of Rick Santorum; for, if he does not receive the 1144 delegates needed before the convention, he may have to swallow his pride as he is subjected to a negotiated convention. In which case, he stops being his own man and his choices of support group to the general elections, including Vice-Presidential nomination and potential cabinet members are subjected to negotiations.

One method for challenging Rick Santorum is to route the candidate’s off-color comments on social conservative issues and actively manage his own press releases with fewer error of messaging. By ensuring that Rick’s comments are subject to scrutiny, he may be able to make Republican voters aware of Santorum potential vulnerability in a general election. There are uncertainties in Romney's current message that he is the only one with business experience out of all the Republican aspirants. While his assertion of business experience against other Republican aspirants may be true, it is not a panacea for success among some conservative voters, who are intrepid with having a Mormon in the White House. The graveyard of Presdiential politics are full of business executives, who have failed woefully in their effort to get nominated as their party flag bearer because they remained with a campaign message that can be easily torpedoed in a general elections; or fervently questioned in party's primaries and caucuses.

Another strategy is to create a prototype of Rick Santorum’s message and play it out on campaign downs or prompts and see how Conservative Republican voters react to this on the go. Transitioning to a more appealing candidate to group(s) who have stood in your way to the nomination, is not limited to spending a ton of money on advertisement; tweaking the message and addressing the concerns of these groups more truthfully, may just be the answer. Don’t attempt to pass yourself as a Southern Conservative Republican, because you are not and any attempt to portray yourself likewise, just falls flat as you have experienced in Alabama and Mississippi. Change maybe unsettling for sometimes, or in the interlude; however, something has to be done, for you to address the nagging successes of Rick Santorum that continue to make your campaign weak, if not disenfranchised in some regions of the country.

Finally, it is incumbent on Romney to address the credible challenge from Rick Santorum. His inability to nurture the desires of the so-called truly Conservative Republicans will continue to be a headache and minimize Romney's chances of avoiding a negotiated convention. Whether Romney likes it or not, Rick Santorum has established or launched a credible challenge to Romney's primacy as the front runner; and any further attempt to ignore this reality, is a potential problem for Romney's Campaign goal, henceforth.
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