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"Hello, and welcome to Capitol Gains, the show you watch when you want REAL analysis.  With us today is our dean of political studies, Peter G.  Peter?  Can you hear me through the bandages?"

Huh?  Oh, ham and eggs with buttered toast, please.  And a black cherry tea, please.

"Here...let me move some of the gauze out of the way...."

Ouch!  Watch the leg!

"Sorry, I didn't mean to bump your cast.  The Illinois primary was that bad, huh?"

It was a war zone.  Especially when you go behind enemy lines like I did.

"What was so tough about it?  Romney won the state.  His first decisive victory in a Midwest state.  It proves the nomination is his to lose."

Sorry, dude, but you aren't paying attention.  Gingrich and Santorum are working together, and their endgame has been revealed.

"Working together?  But most of the attack ads hitting Santorum running through Tuesday were funded by Gingrich's superPAC.  How are they working together?  Is it because of the Etch-A-Sketch thing?"

That's a good indicator, but can still be explained as each hitting on a favorite metaphor.  They are working together because their political future depends on it.

"How so?"

Haven't you wondered why they are both still in the race?  Gingrich has only won two states so far.  Romney has more delegates than Santorum and Gingrich put together.  Santorum and Gingrich know they can't connect with regular voters.  Santorum is a Bible-thumping bully who takes pride in the racism, sexism, homophobia, and intolerance he exudes.  Newtie is just a self-righteous dipshit.

"And neither of them can defeat Obama, since they will chase non-partisan voters to the D's."

Wrong.  They are gambling on the resentment building in the country since the Obama juggernaut started running.  People don't vote FOR candidates, they vote AGAINST the other candidates.  They are wagering that there are enough people who object to Obama for stupid bullshit reasons that make no sense (the birth certificate flap, accusations he's a Muslim, etc.) that they will rush to the polls just to shove Obama out.  These people will not vote for Romney, but they will vote for someone as reactionary as them.  Newtie and Santorum are offering themselves up as someone these people can project their will and values through.

"But they've already proven that Obama was born in the US and he's a Christian, not a Muslim.  Wouldn't it be easy to show the truth to these people?"

If these people paid attention to what's really going on, they wouldn't be supporting Santorum or Newtie in the first place.

"...good point."

Newtie and Santorum are after people who want everything packaged as a simple "good or bad" proposition.  They are specifically seeking out people who are uninformed and are not interested in changing that.

"They are after suckers."

Like P.T. Barnun before them.

"But Romney is in the lead.  And there aren't enough of those people voting in the primaries to tilt things in the direction they want."

Right.  So that is why they are still in the race.  They need a Plan B.

"Okay.  So what's the Plan B?"

A contested election.  Remember, it's not who gets the most delegates, it's who gets 1,144 or more.  Santorum and Newtie are creating a three-way race.  They don't need to beat Romney, just keep him under the wire.  If he doesn't get the majority, the party selects the candidate.

"...oh, my God...."

The R's don't like Romney, but he's their best shot.  Santorum has a Q score going with the party faithful, and they are still the ones making the decisions.  Gingrich has a shitton of favors he's amassed over the years after being Speaker Of The House and so on.

"And that's why Santorum is not asking Gingrich to be his running mate."

Right.  It will unite all these right wing loonies behind one candidate and turn it into a two-person race, for or against a candidate.  But with three, it keeps Romney from solidifying, and if they can do it long enough, it puts the election in the hands of a bunch of people who owe political favors to those two.  They can't get the nomination through normal means because no one likes them.  They have to game the system.

"They have to cheat."

Bingo.

"What are the chances that this will work?"

I honestly don't know.  Romney has his core following, and the election rules were changed into a way that benefits him.

"What do you mean?"

Last election cycle, there were 25 states that were "winner take all," where whoever got the popular vote got all the delegates.  This year, there are only 12.  That means anyone can get electoral votes if they play their cards right.  Remember, Huntsman has two electoral votes.

"Which means people can stay in the race longer."

Right.  Doing well in a state guarantees at least some electoral votes, so even if you don't win the majority, you still win something to push your total up.  That has been Romney's strength.  The only state where Santorum stomped Romney was Kansas, where he got 39 electoral votes to Romney's 7.  Everything else, Santorum only got a little more than twice Romney's or far less.  The sheer number of victories Romney has racked up means that he can take a few losses.  Like the tortoise, slow and steady wins the race.

"And with us well past the halfway point, Romney has the network in place to do it."

Right.  Newtie and Santorum have basically written off the national election.  Remember, during the voting Tuesday, Santorum was in Pennsylvania, not Illinois.  He didn't bother to be here.  They are aiming for a contested nomination.

"You don't sound convinced this will work."

Newtie and Santorum have a major problem -- money.  Remember when Hillary Clinton was running against Obama for the nomination?  She took out a loan against her expected campaign contributions.  The debt and liabilities became a weakness against to Obama juggernaut and it was over.  Gingrich is officially in the red.  Winning Our Future, his superPAC, got another $5.5 mil from Las Vegas Sands casino CEO Sheldon Adelson.  In fact, they're responsible for over 95% of the money Winning Our Future has received.

"Peter?  Don't turn into a conspiracy theorist."

It ain't conspiracy.  It's right there in the filing with the Federal Election Commission they put in last Tuesday.  Winning Our Future got $18.8 mil, and $16.5 mil came from Adelson and his family.  Gingrich's campaign currently has $1.54 mil in cash on hand, but $1.55 mil in debts.  In Februrary, Gingrich spent $2.8 mil but only got $2.6 mil in contributions.  His resources are starting to run out.

"What about Santorum?"

For the month of Februrary, Santorum brought in $8.9 mil, spent $7.8 mil, has $2.6 mil in the bank, and $922,000 in debt.  Part of the money came from those sharks of the lower class, payday loan stores -- they gave a total of $162,500 to Restore Our Future, Santorum's superPAC.

"Negative spending?  From people who want us to trust them to balance the budget?"

I know, right?  Anyway, Ron Paul got $3.3 mil, spent $3.5 mil, has $1.4 in the bank, and no debt.  Romney raised $11.5 mil, spent $12.4 mil (which is a slowdown from January, when he spent three times what he pulled in), $7.3 mil in the bank and no debt.

"So what's the race to watch?"

Tomorrow in the state of Louisana.  Thanks to the whole Etch-A-Sketch thing, Santorum is polling higher, a jump of over ten percentage points this week alone.  The state is heavily conservative, religious, and rural.  In other words, it's like downstate Illinois on a larger scale.  Santorum won those Illinois counties while Romney got the suburbs and Chicago.  There aren't enough population centers in Louisana for Romney's strategy to work effectively.  Santorum needs a decisive win in the state tomorrow to keep his plan in motion.  The two biggest states are still coming up.  California is almost a given for Romney.  Texas?  If Romney can keep on and present things so that Santorum and Newtie split the vote enough to let him take a good share of delegates, the Plan B could fail.

"So Louisiana is damage control."

Right.  If Romney emerges with minimal damage, he has an excellent chance of getting the 1,144 and winning the nomination.  He fails?  The contested election is still an option.

"Well, thank you again, Peter.  Hope you can get back to eating solid foods soon."

Goddamn, I could use a cheeseburger right about now....

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