The 2012 Republican Primary contest has slowed down a bit, both in the frequency of contests and in the media attention given to it. I myself have somewhat decreased the attention paid to it, and I no longer stayed glued to my computer for the first results to come in, like a kid on Christmas Morning. The most exciting news in the election campaign between Illinois and tonight was the comment, by one of Mitt Romney's campaign advisors that the campaign could be reset "like an Etch-a-Sketch" between the primary and general campaign. Which, for some, reinforced the notion that Romney's newly minted conservative positions were somewhat facile.
Of course, the Louisiana Republican electorate was not favorably disposed towards Romney from the start, with Louisiana having a similar political climate to Mississippi and Alabama, both of which states voted for Rick Santorum. And so it was tonight. Rick Santorum got 49% of the vote, Mitt Romney got 27% of the vote, and Newt Gingrich came in third, with 16%. Rick Santorum narrowly missed getting a majority, and Mitt Romney narrowly missed falling below the 25% that would enable him to get delegates.
The main result isn't surprising. Nor does it change the character of the race. The only real ramification of tonight's race is that Gingrich, after finishing a disappointing 2nd place in both Alabama and Mississippi, has finished 3rd in one of the few remaining states that is friendly territory for him. Although I don't know Gingrich's strategy, the continued presence of him in the race is more and more foolish.
When I started this series, back with Iowa, I wrote that I didn't know what had happened, and that I was waiting for the race to take shape. And while the race has taken shape, the ramifications of it have yet to sink in. Tonight's results in Louisiana do little to change Romney's overall picture, he is still stuck in an unprecedented situation. I can't think of the last primary contest in which a candidate did so poorly with the base of their party. What does it mean when Romney wins the nomination, even after the base has rejected him?
Often elections show social change and social conflicts in a dynamic light, and the process can produce an epiphany. I am sure that at some point, the mechanics of this year's election will condense into a story that will make sense to us all, but for now, all I can say is Santorum 49, Romney 27.