POLITICAL WIRE’S HEADLINES – 2/6

Santorum Could Be Bigger Threat to Romney

Nate Silver points out that if Rick Santorum wins both Minnesota and Missouri — where polls suggest he has a chance — that “could revive his campaign, especially given that he also took Iowa.”

“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.”

 

Turnout Way Down in Nevada

Mitt Romney’s easy victory in Nevada “might, in the long run, be less important than the fact that a surprising number of Republicans who could have participated Saturday chose to stay home,” the Las Vegas Sun reports.

“Republicans’ disappointing turnout foreshadows difficulty energizing GOP voters in Nevada, a key swing state in November’s general election.”

Turnout was unlikely to match 2008, when 44,000 Republicans participated in Nevada’s caucuses. Republicans initially predicted that 70,000 Republicans would caucus.

 

Very Close Race in Minnesota

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Minnesota shows a tight contest heading into Tuesday’s caucuses.

Rick Santorum holds a small edge over Mitt Romney, 29% to 27%, with Newt Gingrich at 22% and Ron Paul at 19%.

 

Romney Up Big in Colorado

A new Public Policy Polling survey in Colorado finds Mitt Romney primed for another big win in the caucuses on Tuesday.

Romney leads with 40%, followed by Rick Santorum at 26%, Newt Gingrich at 18% and Ron Paul at 12%.

 

Gingrich Vows to Stay in Race

Newt Gingrich “predicted during a press conference following Saturday’s Nevada caucuses that he would emerge as the GOP front-runner again by the Texas primary,” theWashington Post reports.

“The one problem with that: We have no idea when Texas will hold its primary. A spat over redistricting is likely to push it beyond its scheduled date, April 3.”

Said Gingrich: “I’m not going to withdraw. I’m actually pretty happy with where we are. We will go to Tampa.”

 

Gingrich Backer Hints He’ll Support Romney

Sheldon Adelson, “the billionaire casino executive keeping Newt Gingrich’s presidential hopes alive, has relayed assurances to Mitt Romney that he will provide even more generous support to his candidacy if he becomes the Republican nominee,” the New York Times reports.

 

Where Do the Anti-Romney Voters Go?

As Mitt Romney consolidates his lead and stands as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, The Hill asks “What do the anti-Romney Republicans do now?”

“Those who continue to believe that Romney can be stopped are focused — as is the campaign of Newt Gingrich — on the possibility of a long delegate fight. They have largely given up hope of anyone winning a knockout victory over Romney… Other figures in the media firmament are not so sure. Rush Limbaugh, for instance, has been harshly critical of Romney for years but is now urging his listeners to concentrate on the imperative, as he sees it, of defeating President Obama.”

 

How Romney Uses the Mormon Church

BuzzFeed: “The secret to the grassroots success lies, in part, in the unique national structure and scrupulous record-keeping of the Utah-headquartered Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While the church itself is politically neutral, it contains the structural groundwork for one of the most organized and effective voting blocs in the country — something Romney is poised to capitalize on.”

“In contrast with most other religions in the country, the Mormon Church is nationally organized in a strict, top-down fashion, like a corporation. Every congregation in the U.S. reports back to church headquarters in Salt Lake. Whenever an individual is baptized — either as a child or as a convert — local ministers take down the person’s name, address, phone number, and e-mail address… The church expressly forbids using these directories for non-religious purposes, but that doesn’t deter many politically active Mormons from working their ward lists to get out the vote. Reports abound of members blasting out congregational e-mails soliciting support for partisan causes and candidates.”

 

Economy Lifts Obama in New Hampshire

A new WMUR Granite State Poll shows that the improving economy has also raised President Obama’s standing in New Hampshire.

Key findings: 38% of New Hampshire adults think the country is headed in the right direction, while 50% say it’s on the wrong track. That doesn’t seem optimistic, but it represent a big jump from October, when 70% thought the country was on the wrong track.

Obama’s approval rate is now 51% and he beats Mitt Romney in a possible general election match up, 50% to 40%.

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