Unlikely Outcomes

The New York Times takes a look at Rick Santorum’s campaign in Iowa and deems it a “lean” but “muscular” organization:

Now, as the campaign moves beyond the long-shot-friendly borders of Iowa, Mr. Santorum’s campaign can no longer count on the candidate’s pluck and retail political prowess to make up for its lingering handicaps. He is seriously outgunned by the national fund-raising and organizational operations of his chief rivals, Mr. Romney and Mr. Paul, and he will face much heavier scrutiny from the news media and attacks from opponents. And while he has visited New Hampshire repeatedly (more than 30 times) as well as South Carolina (25 visits), his campaign still has a relatively tiny staff and is only now developing its advertising strategy.

Yes, it’s possible that the former Pennsylvania governor could compete with Romney for votes in New Hampshire and South Carolina; Santorum will almost certainly benefit from the shrinking field, as Michele Bachmann ends her campaign and Rick Perry begins to do the same. Still, given the extent to which Santorum’s is a bare-bones operation—without the capacity to respond to attacks from Romney and his surrogates—it’s hard to envision a scenario where Santorum doesn’t falter over the next few weeks. What’s more, he has vulnerabilities that go beyond his jury-rigged campaign. To wit:

Santorum has long opposed the Supreme Court’s 1965 ruling “that invalidated a Connecticut law banning contraception” and has also pledged to completely defund federal funding for contraception if elected president. As he told CaffeinatedThoughts.com editor Shane Vander Hart in October, “One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country,” the former Pennsylvania senator explained. “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

I can imagine a world where the Republican Party would nominate someone opposed to contraception—a front-runner for one of the most unpopular opinions in American life—but it certainly isn’t this one. Barring something catastrophic, Mitt Romney will be the nominee, and Santorum will remain a sideshow.