Mitt Romney's short term outlook is better than you think

By Kevin Long

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, March 10 2012 12:13 p.m. MST

Southern (dis)Comfort

If you have not heard by now you must be hiding under a rock… Mitt Romney is like a fish out of water with the good ole’ boys down south. He ain’t got a chance in heck of winning anything for a month of Sundays…

I know you think this because my wife wrote something similar today and emailed it (without the Arkansas drawl) to our son serving his LDS mission in Uruguay. I use my wife to hear things the way a normal person would hear it. She has done a good job of remaining a normal person even though she has spent nearly 35 years hanging out with me.

The pundit class is quick to point out how bad the outlook is for Romney. The typical politician will often play to their strength…thus avoiding their weaknesses. Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon taught me this principle while canvassing the streets of Hood River, his home town, during his first campaign for public office. It is from this traditional foundation that the media is framing the narrative this week.

Urgent Telegram: Mitt Romney is a member of the business class. He has made his millions (okay hundreds of millions) finding a company’s weaknesses and converting them to strengths. He sees a challenge as an opportunity. For him this week is Southern Opportunity. If he seizes the moment he will create a lot of southern discomfort for his opponents.

He gathered the endorsement of the Mississippi governor today and his super pack dropped a $3 million ad buy in Alabama and Mississippi. A closely held secret… he is ahead in poling in Mississippi and in a three way statistical dead heat in Alabama.

What to expect Saturday:Kansas Remember the 37 percent rule…. Kansas has 40 delegates. Romney’s goal is 15. To reach this goal he needs three things to happen.

1. He needs to win the 3rd congressional district. This is Kansas City and the suburbs. Twenty three percent of the state’s Republicans live here. This will collect 3 delegates.

2. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich need to fall short of the 20% threshold. Leaving the 25 statewide delegates to be distributed between he and Rick. Newt has obliged by not campaigning in Kansas. Ron Paul likely will exceed 20 percent.

3. He needs to get 32% of the popular vote. Two and three are difficult objectives. But as you can see he can win in Kansas while losing. No polling has been done in Kansas but the demographics bode very well for Sen. Santorum.

The Other Side of Heaven How many of you are aware that the Islands will vote in March…I thought so… They are being ignored because they do not serve the narrative. Seventy nine delegates are distributed to Puerto Rico, Hawaii, The Northern Marianas, The US Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoan. Kansas and Alabama combined have 80 delegates. The LDS Church has a huge presence in the pacific Islands. Doubt me…have you tried to pronounce the names on the BYU football roster recently? Additionally, the Governor of Puerto Rico endorsed Mitt Romney during the Florida Primary. Three of the territories will hold non-binding caucuses on Saturday. Twenty-seven delegates will be at stake.

Projection A modest night for Romney would collect 13 delegates from Kansas and 17 from the Islands, for a total of 30. Under this scenario Santorum would collect 24 from Kansas and maybe 3 from the Islands for a total of 27. It is probable that Mitt Romney will gather more delegates Saturday than any other candidate. However, Santorum will be portrayed as the winner because he will win the popular vote by a strong margin in Kansas.

Kevin worked as a political consultant and lobbyist in Oregon prior to relocating his family to Utah in 1992.

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