Santorum Can’t Beat Obama? Sure.

Mike Keefe, Cagle Cartoons

I struggle for a pithy word to describe my emotion towards liberals who in the last few months have been rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of Republicans nominating Rick Santorum as they insist he is so far outside the mainstream of American politics he cannot possibly beat Barack Obama. I would use the word “bemused” but that would imply that I am puzzled but I am only mildly puzzled at best: as a person who is quite liberal himself on any number of issues, I have long noted the liberal arrogance which manifests itself in the frequent inability to understand people they disagree with and thus to underestimate them–or, as George W. Bush once famously said of himself, their tendency to “misunderestimate.” The fact is that many liberals have for years, decades even, found themselves assuming that everyday voters as a group, or women as a group, think things that as a group that they frequently do not.

I still find the phenomenon mildly puzzling but only in that I don’t see how otherwise perfectly intelligent people can be so blind to the evidence of history or, for that matter, to polls.

For example there is the widespread conception that being politically pro-life hurts you with “women.” The problem with this being that not only do pro-life candidates often win with women voters, but by independent polls, about half of American women consider themselves pro-life and a majority of American women support greater legal restrictions on the procedure than are now prevalent (some supporting far more limits than others, granted). That’s just a blunt reality, and that reality does not change based on your desires one way or the other.

In other areas, when it comes to gay rights, while there is no denying that contempt for gays has been steadily waning for many years, and support to grant their relationships legal protection growing, the fact is that in most people’s lists of top priorities this ranks somewhere near the bottom. You may think gay rights should be everyone’s top priority but the blunt reality is that for most people it is not even in the top 5. Ditto the strange and almost pointless debates that have cropped up recently about “women in combat,” which military experts can tell you is an almost completely stupid argument (not because women in combat is not an issue, but because the way people are arguing about it has nothing to do with reality as the military sees it) and because, once again, when it comes to issues most people care about it, this ranks somewhere around where they think about the importance of who will be the next President of Mexico: in terms of where it is on their list of priorities as voters, it’s almost nonexistent. If there is a single undecided person in America who will in November march into the voting booth and make their final decision based on the candidate’s view of women in combat, I want to meet that person.

(You don’t count if you’ve already made up your mind, in case I wasn’t clear enough about that.)

For those liberals who were busy crowing a few weeks ago that in national polls Santorum was ridiculously behind Obama, a sobering reality should smack them in the face: the President’s lead over Santorum in national polls has consistently narrowed as voters have gotten to know Santorum better. And it’s only March; it is usually a very good sign for a potential challenger to a sitting President if more than half a year away from election day he is already within 5 or 10 points of the President.

Ronald Reagan came back from further back than this in the polls when he beat Jimmy Carter.

The fact is that while Rick Santorum is still something of a long shot to winning the Republican nomination, liberals should be praying he doesn’t get that nomination because if he does he may well be the next President of the United States. Certainly, there are many strengths that President Obama still has, and it is by no means certain he will be defeated. But an unexpected massive downturn in the economy, or foreign events that make the President suddenly look weak, could change all that in a heartbeat.

It is time for those liberals who oppose the likes of Rick Santorum get serious and face the very real possibility that this man could win the Republican nomination and from there win the Presidency. Laughing at him and about him is likely the worst mistake you can make.

(This item cross-posted to Dean’s World.)

Author: DEAN ESMAY, Guest Voice Columnist

Dean Esmay is a long-time associate of Joe Gandelman and The Moderate Voice. He is Managing Editor of A Voice for Men. He also blogs on a variety of issues at Dean's World, one of the world's first blogs and one of the few that was archived as Historically Significant by the Library of Congress for the 2004 elections. You can also follow Dean via Twitter here.

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12 Comments

  1. I don’t think so, and even if he did get the nomination, I would have to hop the fence and vote for Obama. And, I don’t think I am alone among moderates.

  2. Santorum isn’t just an anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage candidate. He is ALL about that. As you said these issues rank low with most voters, but not with Santorum. His faith is a driving force. And he believes the tenets of that faith, at least the ones he agrees with, should be made into law. Yes he has an economic plan, yes he has positions on foreign policy, but thats not what Santorum is or what he brings to the table. So, his biggest strengths lie with those voters who likewise vote about those issues, and as you point out, most voters don’t rank them high. If he got the nomination Obama would spank him.

  3. “I have long noted the liberal arrogance which manifests itself in the frequent inability to understand people they disagree with”

    On the contrary, I think they understand them all too well. That isn’t “arrogance”, it’s something more akin to deep disappointment in one’s countrymen. As for Santorum’s chances of getting into the White House? Zip, and I’ll take any bet you want to place. Keep in mind, Obama hasn’t even entered the ring yet.

  4. There are times when liberals have underestimated the GOP– 1980 comes to mind and also 2010– but this is not one of them. Palin proved that selecting a barn burner for the presidential ticket is a turnoff for voters, because elections ride on independents in swing states. There are not enough Republicans in the base to pull it off

  5. Z, with all due respect, he has been campaigning for at least a month and as reported just hit his 100th fund raiser.
    Plus many a program or idea he is now proposing is either a Rep knockoff or something that can’t pass. And, if we are to be paranoid, he started this contraception tempest as a trap.

  6. Santorum is way out of the mainstream and he would lose all swing..moderate..centerist…whatever voters.

  7. Dean, this, like the others of yours I’ve read, is so far off base in both tone and facts. Maybe alienation of your readership is your point? Your ability to insult your audience in an arrogant manner is fairly miraculous. And “liberals”, by the way, aren’t some alien creature whose culture you’re studying for an anthropology class (xenology?).

    You base your argument here:

    “The fact is that many liberals have for years, decades even, found themselves assuming that everyday voters as a group, or women as a group, think things that as a group that they frequently do not.
    The fact is that many liberals have for years, decades even, found themselves assuming that everyday voters as a group, or women as a group, think things that as a group that they frequently do not.”

    It’s not a particularly “liberal” think to do. I mean, look at the shock of the media that Catholics, who really don’t vote as a block at all, didn’t all decide to vote for Santorum in Michigan or Arizona, per exit polls. “He lost the Catholic vote! What does it mean??” they wondered. Nothing. Catholics aren’t a voting block in the same way that Evangelicals are.

    For example there is the widespread conception that being politically pro-life hurts you with “women.”

    The problem here is that Santorum is not just pro-life. He’s anti birth-control. Even Catholic women use birth control at about 98% — not all regularly, but almost all sexually active Catholic women use it at one point or another in their lives. Only about a third of women get an abortion in their lives. It’s easy enough for some women to point to others and snidely dismiss them as having had an abortion, or having had one that wasn’t morally justified like their own.

    liberals should be praying he doesn’t get that nomination because if he does he may well be the next President of the United States

    This is your one good point. Except for the praying bit, of course (as a godless librul), but there are many things that come out of a terrible candidate besides a presidency. Santorums candidacy has already pushed this awful conversation where somehow otherwise reasonable people are seriously and honestly debating the merits of women using birth control, as if they should have any say over it. I think the nation benefits from a strong national dialog that focuses on important issues that require real debate. It is a sign of terrible things that Santorum has already made the case that we should be talking about taking away women’s autonomy.

  8. 19 points.

    He lost his home state – a state supposedly full of the blue collar conservatives Santorum appeals to – by 19 points.

    Even Al Gore did better in Tennessee.

    That’s why Democrats are rubbing their hands. They’re rubbing their hands over the contraception fiasco. They’re rubbing their hands over his grandstanding with Terri Schiavo. They’re rubbing their hands over all those social issues where Mr. Santorum is way to the right of many Americans.

  9. Sorry to break it to all the non liberals, but their hatred of America’s first Black president isn’t so powerful that it could put santorum in the oval office.

  10. I have long noted the liberal arrogance which manifests itself in the frequent inability to understand people they disagree with and thus to underestimate them

    Really?! You see that as a particularly liberal trait? To me that exposes your own inability to understand people you disagree with.

  11. This is a joke, so don’t take it seriously. I sometimes imagine a halo over the heads of some liberals.
    I know most are sincere, I just get the feeling those with the halos are phonies. My bad.

  12. The news has not reported on this accurately. Of the women surveyed who consider themselves Catholic, who rarely or never attend service, do not consider the teachings of the pope when making decisions in their life, and who are trying to conceive, 98% of them do not use conception. So of the Catholic women trying to get pregnant 98% are not using birth control. That is comforting. This is where the 98% stat came from once doing a little research. It was misleading, and frustrating to treat the American people so ignorantly. Also, Rick Santorum when questioned does not believe in birth control for himself, but does not belief in regulating you and your rights to practice birth control, and in fact will not regulate your right for birth control. I’ll even go find the speech if you need it. I like all my news from the mouth of the candidates and not from the media. They get it wrong every time.

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