Mitt Romney’s path to victory in a general election is clear:
- He appeals to suburban independents and other upper-middle-class, socially-moderate voters, thus enabling him to win states like New Hampshire and Florida.
- The fact that he’s a Mormon would help in western states like Nevada.
- Hopefully, white blue-collar voters are so alienated by Obama that they propel Romney to victory in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, despite Romney’s elitist persona.
But what about a Santorum coalition to beat Obama? That’s doable, but harder:
- Santorum’s Catholic, socially-conservative, blue-collar appeal would translate into advantages in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.
- But would fiscally conservative and moderate suburbanites and upper-middle-class independents still vote for Santorum, allowing him to carry states like Florida and New Hampshire? Right now, the answer is no; it’s just not respectable in those circles to admit that you’re a Santorum supporter.
But there are still nine months left until the general election. Any number of things could happen by then – a European financial implosion, Israel attacking Iran, American unemployment rising again, a SCOTUS decision on Obamacare… Santorum could still beat Obama, although I wouldn’t bet on it.