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Santorum’s Out: What it Means for PA Races

Romney is withdrawing his ad buys, meaning that costs will return to normal election levels instead of the 10 to 15 percent inflation that would have accompanied the buy.

The lack of political ad clutter will benefit any campaign on television, and will allow advertising budgets to stretch longer.

However, diminished interested in the top-ticket race will likely result in a lower turnout among Republicans statewide.

Winners:

Tom Smith. Smith has run a TV campaign, start to finish. He’s out-spending his opponents 2-1. Less clutter on the airwaves means more people will see Smith for U.S. Senate ads. His considerable bankroll will go further.

Steve Welch. While his bid for U.S. Senate would have benefitted from a surge in turnout among moderate SEPA Republicans, low turnout primaries favor GOP-endorsed candidates. Plus, he will also benefit from the undivided attention of his media consultant John Brabender, who will no longer be tied up advising Santorum’s bid.

Local candidates. If you’ve got a TV budget of $50,000 or less, it’s tough to compete with an aggressive national campaign for prime air time on the evening news.

Tom Corbett. He’d stayed neutral so far, despite being asked about his preference in the race every day for months. He won’t have to make a potentially risky endorsement (or non-endorsement) in the race, meaning he can stay friends with everyone.

Losers:

Sam Rohrer. It was perfect for Rohrer, the U.S. Senate hopeful and former state Rep. He has a built-in base of support that correlates to Santorum’s. And he has little money to advertise on TV, so the fact that his rivals’ ads were being overshadowed helped him, too. Now, those rivals’ vote share will grow, while his conservative base is less motivated to turn out.

Evan Feinberg. Similar to Rohrer, Feinberg will rely on conservative activists to deliver him a victory over Rep. Tim Murphy, in a district that contains most of Santorum’s home turf.

Nick Mattiachi and Dave Kralle.

These are the Republican candidates running in the two special state house elections where the GOP is hoping to pick up one seat (Mattiachi is running for Josh Shapiro’s seat in Montco) and hold another (Kralle is running for Denny O’Brien’s seat in Philly). Increased primary turnout would have helped their cause, but no more.

Ryan MacKenzie (in HD-134) is a little worse off, but still likely to win Doug Reichley’s old seat.

TV stations.

Man, we feel for you. Stations here were about to get their hands on a $2.9 million windfall. They still likely got $500,000 or so, but they’ll have to hope for a competitive general election to make up for it.

7 Responses

  1. Don’t be so quick to discount Tom Smith.

    The only Western PA candidate, Smith is likely to perform well in that region of the state.

    (He has significant grass roots Tea Party support both in the West, where he co-founded a Tea Party group, and in the SE from the Independence Hall Tea Party.)

    The central and eastern portions of the state will be divided up among Scaringi, Rohrer, Welch, and Christian. Smith is likely run as well as anyone else

    Coupled with Republican anger over the Welch endorsement, this could propel Smith to victory.

    Rohrer has his base, but no indication that it’s growing.

  2. @RINO Hunter -“Feel bad for Scaringi. He’s a genuine conservative but no network yet.” Agree 100%, 2 + years on the road, solid constitutional conservative, great debater, good family man and ability to think on his feet. Unfortunately Marc had two base problems.
    First, many in the tea party would rather give money to Heritage, Tea Party Express , Pro Life Federation and national organizations rather than support local and state candidates. I see it first hand.
    Secondly, Ron Paul is running for President this year. Ron Pauls people have been working for Ron and raising money for Ron and are busy getting the names of their delegates out to people for the RNC Convention,

    I am amazed how many Ron Paul supporters are in the Rohrer camp as opposed to Marc’s, who basically mirrors Rand Paul. Especially considering the HUGE difference in foreign policy between Rohrer and Scaringi. In fact, when I had Marc into a joint group meeting in January I said to a few Ron Paul supporters, Marc is basically PA’s Rand Paul. If you support Ron it would only make sense to support Marc. Go figure.

    Of course applying logic to the political theater is not always logical.

  3. Agree with wisdom let loose in the comments more than than Keegan’s cotton candy spin.

    Face it, Romney support is an inch deep. Lucky for him, that inch was filled with media-buying dollars. Couple that with Pennsylvania’s meaningless presidential primary and your average Republican voter might avoid the charade altogether.

    Winners? Sam Rohrer and Steve Welch. Sam has the best grassroots network and Steve will get RINO establishment types. Smith’s money will buy neither.

    Feel bad for Scaringi. He’s a genuine conservative but no network yet. Hope to see him get back in the game, maybe he can give the pagop a good swift kick in the keister.

  4. One dynamic missing from the typical party endorsement scenario this year is county parties working for the endorsed candidates. The governors demeanor in Hershey was enough to cower them into endorsing Welch, but not enough to work for or support him in the primary. That said, I think your analysis on whom it helps and whom it hurts is accurate, but for different reasons.

  5. I tend to agree with Shawn, but not for the same reasoning, I think.

    Low-turnout primaries tend to favor candidates with strong base support, rather than candidates with money. That’s one of the reasons that Santorum cleaned Romney’s clock in some states. Also look at Brad Schneider over Ilya Sheyman a few weeks ago in IL-10, and Manan Trivedi over Doug Pike in 2010 in PA-06.

    With the party endorsement, I still think the dropout favors Welch on the balance, but I think Smith is hurt and Roher is probably a net draw or slight benefit.

  6. I disagree that Sam Rohrer will be negatively affected. With Santorum out, the turnout will be much less and a larger percentage of voters will be motivated and knowledgeable on the candidates which favors Sam. Ads will only affect people that do not know the candidates and there will be far less of them voting.

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