Is Rick Santorum Romney’s Last Challenge?

by Stuart Shapiro

Last week I predicted that Senator Santorum would drop out of the race for president after an embarrassing finish in Florida.  A couple of commenters took issue with the prediction, saying he would never drop out because he was fighting for social conservatiism.  While I still don’t buy that (Michele Bachmann dropped out after all), Nate Silver thinks there might be another reason for Santorum to stay in.

Mr. Santorum is, in many ways, a more dangerous opponent for Mr. Romney than Mr. Gingrich at this point. He has run a more disciplined campaign than the former House speaker, has less personal baggage and is less disliked by party leaders.

Mr. Santorum can also make a credible claim to challenging Mr. Romney on electability. Mr. Santorum’s current unfavorable rating among all voters is 11 points lower than Mr. Romney’s, 36 percent versus 47 percent. Their favorable ratings are roughly equal: 30 percent for Mr. Santorum to 29 percent for Mr. Romney.

I’m not sure I buy this one either.  Santorum has no chance as long as Gingrich is in the race.  And since Gingrich has beaten Santorum handily in the last three states, how are you going to convince someone with an ego the size of Gingrich’s to step aside for someone he clearly looks down on?

About Stuart Shapiro

Stuart Shapiro Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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