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Santorum Unlikely to be Successful in Illinois’ Primary, Political Analysts Say

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GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum will appear on Illinois’ primary ballot, but some political analysts say the former Pennsylvania senator won’t have the momentum to make it past Super Tuesday March 6 and to the state’s election come March 20.

Santorum’s fifth-place finish in New Hampshire Tuesday and his second-place success in Iowa last week—which was the first state to vote for the Republican candidate who will run against President Barack Obama in 2012—was largely credited to his visit of all 99 Iowa counties.

But Santorum’s ground-operation strategy won’t work in other states, said Dick Simpson, who heads the political science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“He definitely got a big boost in Iowa, but my guess is that it’s not viable as a campaign,” Simpson said, referring to Illinois’ primary.

Santorum, who was the last GOP candidate to file the required paperwork to appear on the March 20th ballot here, will compete in 15 out of Illinois’ 18 congressional districts. He will not compete in Chicago’s 4th, 5th and 7th districts because he does not have a full slate of candidates, said Jon Zahm, Santorum’s Illinois political director.

“It’s going to be a big success,” Zahm said. “We are happy with where we stand.”

Keith Boeckelman, professor and interim chair of political science at Western Illinois University, said he doesn’t think Santorum can emulate his current campaign strategy in upcoming states.

After  South Carolina’s Jan. 21 primary, the states become larger and come faster, especially on Super Tuesday when 11 states hold their elections

“It’s harder to cover the whole state,” Boeckelman said. “That retail campaign is not realistic.”

UIC political scientist Simpson said for Santorum to be successful in the remaining  48 states, he will need more money and organization.

“As far as I know, he doesn’t have that,” Simpson said.

But Zahm disagreed, saying Santorum’s funds are growing.

“Things are turning very high up on our fundraising,” Zahm said, adding that within 24 hours of the caucus results in Iowa, the Santorum campaign raised about $1 million online.

Even with the recent fundraising success for Santorum’s campaign, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who won Iowa by just eight votes, appears to have the upper hand when it comes to finances, Boeckelman said.

Unless Santorum can raise more money and improve his national campaign, “I don’t see Santorum having the organizational strength to be able to compete that much longer,” Boeckelman said.

Zahm conceded the Santorum campaign will “never have the money Romney has.”

Romney has raised about $56 million with $19 million cash on hand, according to Reuters.

“But we are going to be able to compete,” Zahm said. “It’s just a matter of getting money raised.”

Money isn’t the only way to sway voters to Santorum’s corner in Illinois, however.

There are many Catholic voters in the state who agree with Santorum’s socially conservative beliefs against gay marriage and abortion, Zahm said.

Zahm predicts when Illinois’ primary is held four weeks from now only Santorum and Romney will be left in the race. GOP presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Charles “Buddy” Roemer and Mitt Romney will also appear on Illinois’ ballot.

“The one who is a clear consistent conservative is Santorum,” he said.

But political scientist Boeckelman doesn’t think Santorum’s socially conservative beliefs will work in Illinois.

“If you look at the Republicans (who) are successful in Illinois, they are the business-type Republicans like Romney,” he said. “Social conservatives have not done well in Illinois.”

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Posted by on January 12, 2012. Filed under Editor's Choice, Politics is Local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.