The Republican Establishment is dead-set on Mitt Romney. They have the brainpower and the research investments to come to a proper conclusion in situations like these.
That’s at least what we’re told.
Then again, John McCain and Bob Dole were establishment choices and they didn’t work out so well. George W. Bush was a beneficiary of circumstance more than substance in his victories. His father was a Reagan carryover. The last GOP nominee to not receive the initial support from the Republican Establishment was in 1980 when Ronald Reagan bucked the system and won the nomination despite not being anointed from the start.
With that said, there’s basic mathematical reasons why Santorum might be the better choice. It’s definitely simplified in the model below, but it deserves to be considered.
First, take the popular vote out of the equation. It doesn’t matter (even though Santorum is beating Romney nationally when Republican voters are polled). The road to the White House is won by winning states and that’s where Santorum has the potential edge over Obama (and Romney does not).
Santorum is more popular than Romney in Iowa (barely), Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana, all states that Obama won in 2008. He may have lost Michigan but there’s a good chance that independents will scorn Romney over “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” and stick with Obama.
If Santorum could get the swing states listed above and pick up Florida with Marco Rubio as VP, he would be neck-and-neck with Obama by delegates. He would still need at least one more state plus all of the states that McCain won in 2008 to claim a victory, but again the mathematical scenario makes sense.
For Romney, it’s not as easy. Pennsylvania is the real key and despite Joe Biden not being the most effective VP in history, he’s still a Scranton boy with deep roots. If the GOP nominee can’t pick up Pennsylvania, he is almost guaranteed a loss.
Here are the scenarios. Click to enlarge.