Rick Santorum's Hope: That the 2012 Wisconsin Polls Are As Bad As They Usually Are

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 30 2012 10:42 AM

Rick Santorum's Hope: That the 2012 Wisconsin Polls Are As Bad As They Usually Are

LA CROSSE, WI - MARCH 28: Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum bowls a few frames during a campaign stop at South Lanes Bowling and Pizza on March 28, 2012 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Wisconsin residents will go to the polls on April 3 to vote for their choice for the Republican presidential nominee. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Hill claims that Mitt Romney has opened a "solid lead" over Rick Santorum in Wisconsin; the NBC-Marist poll has Romney at 40, Santorum at 33. It's the latest Wisconsin poll to show Santorum losing his advantage in the state even as Newt Gingrich collapses into a heap of adverbs and "$2.50 gas" tweets. But is it a solid lead? Wisconsin's not really fair about this sort of thing.

In 2004, five polls were conducted before the Wisconsin primary. Four of them put Edwards below 20 percent. Edwards actually won 34 percent, nearly defeating John Kerry. (A fluke for poll junkies: Zogby was the one who got closest to the actual result.)


Then came the Clinton-Obama contest, which looked nothing like that. Hillary Clinton had lost Super Tuesday on delegates, and was struggling to survive a month of unfriendly primaries. (She would eventually bounce back in Ohio and Texas.) Wisconsin looked like the best possible place for her to cut Barack Obama's advantage. Most polling showed a single-digit race; the best Obama result, from Public Policy Polling, gave him a 13-point lead. She campaigned there; he campaigned there. On election day Obama won by 17 points, sweeping every congressional district and 62 of 72 counties.

Rick Santorum can hope that the polls are off, and that independent voters will come out for him like they once came out for Edwards. I use the word "hope" for a reason. Wisconsin's also got fewer evangelical voters than any Midwestern state that's voted so far. The easiest way of predicting whether Romney will win a state is checking whether evangelicals make up a majority of the vote.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.