The results from Iowa and New Hampshire bring good news and better news for the Republican Party and its prospects for November.
First, Mitt Romney’s success in both states all but guarantees that the GOP won’t need to endure a long, bitter, scorched-earth fight for the presidential nomination. Santorum and Gingrich both lack the funding to win in the multi-front battle ahead, especially since the surviving anti-Romney candidates are far more likely to take votes from each other than they are to peel away support from the frontrunner.
Most importantly, the substantial segment of the Republican electorate that wants above all to find the most electable contender to end Obama’s Reign of Error will recoil from strident debates on social issues—and that includes many (like me) who largely share Senator Santorum’s conservative values. Most right wingers understand that if the fall campaign focuses on jobs, economic insecurity, fiscal mismanagement and runaway spending, we win; if, on the other hand, the debate concentrates on potential repeal of gays-in-the-military, or criminalizing abortion even in cases of rape and incest, the president could win re-election in a walk.In his excellent victory speech in Iowa, Senator Santorum effectively articulated themes of economic growth and enhanced opportunity, and spoke movingly about his own family’s pursuit of the American dream. But Santorum won’t be able to choose his own issues as the campaign moves forward—neither the president in the fall campaign, nor the mainstream media in televised debates and elsewhere, nor the cascade of Super-PAC negative advertising about to wash over the Pennsylvanian’s boyish head, will allow Santorum to avoid revisiting his own wildly controversial past statements on immigration, abortion, marriage, gay rights and much more. Every day that political argument concentrates on these cultural issues is another day that Barack Obama dodges responsibility for the dismal economic record that deserves to bring him down.