As to Rick Santorum's smashing victory in Saturday's Louisiana primary, it was hardly a good omen for Mitt Romney that the sole parish he won was Orleans, home of the sin city that Republican voters in the state regard unfavorably by a 51-39 margin. The only demographic groups that went for Romney were the irreligious and the over-$200k-per-annum crowd--not exactly a ticket to success in a state that ranks 36th in median income and where two-thirds of GOP primary voters say they go to church weekly. Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, who campaigned hard, was reduced to an also-ran.
So what? From WaPo to Politico to TPM, the mediapolitocracy says Louisiana doesn't matter--really, that nothing matters any more. Romney's home free. “Most people here are really starting to turn their eye to the prize in November,” Rep. Paul Ryan told the NYT Sunday in Wisconsin, Santorum's next big Midwestern hope. “It’s all about electability and winning.” But while that's the kind of judgment you expect from elected pols, it doesn't seem to be working with Santorum's base. To the contrary, it gives conservative tea-partying evangelicals the idea that they can take a free swing. Knowing your unelectable guy won't get the nomination means you can safely vote for him on principle. When you're enraptured with Santorum, why get left behind with Romney?
Given the intricacies of the GOP delegate selection process, I'm not sure whether Romney's got it in the bag or not. For now, though, I'd keep the Etch-a-Sketch in my pocket and act as though this were a close race.