Santorum soars in Texas

Santorum would get the votes of 45 percent, Gingrich got 18 percent, Romney received 16 percent and Paul garnered 14 percent.The Texas Tribune is reporting that Rick Santorum enjoys a huge lead in Texas (“UT/TT Poll: Santorum Crushing GOP Hopefuls in Texas“).

I was a little surprised by the size of the lead, but I predicted a Santorum to win Texas at a panel last week.

Here’s why I expect Santorum to win Texas. It’s not my endorsement (not that I think anyone wants my endorsement):

  1. The theory that Gingrich would automatically do well in Texas because he is from the South was misguided. Some Texans may call themselves southerners, but southerners are not Texans. We may all seem the same to some analysts, but Texans know that Gingrich is not one of us and will not get our votes automatically. The baggage that Gingrich carries from his time as Speaker and his marriages leaves him with a lot to overcome with the kind of social conservatives that populate the Texas Republican party.
    .
  2. Rick Santorum claimed the mantle of consistent social conservatism that has eluded Gingrich and Romney. Texans like loyalty in the candidates (and their dogs) this why Santorum is the only Republican candidate who got favorable ratings than unfavorable ratings from Texans. Gingrich and Romney are unpopular among Texas voters and approach President Obama’s unfavorable ratings. That’s pretty grim results in a survey where 50% of respondents identified themselves as conservative and 49% describe themselves as Republican or leaning Republican.
    Romney was rated favorably by 27 percent of voters and unfavorably by 48 percent. Gingrich's numbers were 33 percent favorable and 49 percent unfavorable, and Paul's were 30 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable.
    Ron Paul has been very consistent with his libertarian version of conservatism. However, the Texas GOP is dominated by social conservatives. Texans have libertarian leanings, but they generally don’t buy the whole package. If the libertarian movement was that strong in Texas Debra Medina would have done much better in the GOP primary two years ago.
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  3. Romney’s religion hold him back. I’m not saying that a lot of Texas voters will vote against Romney because he’s a Mormon. However, the Tribune’s poll suggests there are some Texans would not vote for a Mormon candidate who agreed with them on issues.58% of Texans said they would be willing to vote for a Mormon presidential candidate who agrees with them on the issues. 21 percent said no and another 21 percent said they didn't know or preferred not to answer
    While 58% of Texas report they would be willing to vote for a Mormon presidential candidate who agrees with them on the issues, 21 percent said no and another 21 percent said they didn’t know or declined to answer. In another question, 40% of Texans said they don’t consider Mormons Christians and another 29% did they don’t know.
    Even if the number of people who will never vote for you is small, it’s hard starting off an election by losing 10-20% of the vote.
    .

Rick Santorum is surging nationally and he is well positioned to win in Texas since Gingrich, Romney, and Paul are not good fits in Texas. However, most voters are just beginning to learn about him and he is new to most Texans. He and his record as a U.S. Senator are just beginning to face scrutiny. I think he’ll continue to do well in the Texas primary–if we ever get it scheduled.

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