Since we began studying government, and especially elections, I have found myself paying closer attention to the news than I had in years past. This November I will be voting for the first time, so I feel that the campaigns are both more important and more interesting to follow. We’ve talked about election, campaigns, and political parties, and that has greatly increased my understanding of the former Republican Senator Rick Santorum’s political choices with regards to how he campaigned and why he finally dropped out of the race.
Every candidate starts out in their own way with different advantages and disadvantages from their opponents. Santorum began the race with little money and with little recognition. In order to work around this he started his campaign early in Iowa, meeting with people of influence in every one of the districts. In doing so he eventually earned the attention of major news networks. He did not win the Iowa caucus, but it was still a victory for his team. Later on he beat Romney, his main competition, in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado. Despite these wins, Santorum was never real competition for Romney. No matter how hard Santorum campaigned it was clear that he could never be able to secure the Republican nomination.
From the beginning, one of the key reasons Santorum was at a disadvantage was because he lacked strong financial supporters. In the 2008 elections for example, the republican candidate, John McCain, raised 351 million dollars. (Choices 140) To try to make up for his lack of necessary funds, he put in more face time with real voters than any other candidate. Unfortunately for him however, this could never be enough to win over the nation.
After seeing how Santorum fared, I first wondered why he did not run as a third party candidate. Although he had Republican beliefs, if he ran as an Independent he would be able to spend time trying to win over America rather than trying to beat Romney. By the time the November elections came around he might have enough recognition to face Romney and Obama. Our studies of government made why he chose to run as a Republican candidate despite his shortcomings abundantly clear.
Elections in America were set up to be a two party ordeal. Many states partake in a winner takes all mentality where there is no reward for putting up a good fight or coming in second. All that matters is the one candidate who won the majority. This system is responsible for why parties can come and go, but there are always two that will dominate the minority groups. It is set up this way in part because if there were more parties then elections would become increasingly confusing and more and more people would be dissatisfied with the president, as they were not the ones to elect him to office.
Despite all of his campaigning and all of the time he dedicated to his race, on April 10th Santorum announced the suspension of his campaign. “The [announcement] solidifies what already essentially had become a two-man fight for the presidency in November.” Though the reasons behind it were more than simply political, Santorum realized that at this point in his family’s life he could not devote so much of his time and resources to a futile race. Despite his suspension, Santorum said”we are not done fighting,” which seemed to refer more to the health of his daughter rather than his campaign. Read more about his announcement.
The unit on elections taught me that being elected to an office of any kind takes more than trying to be a likeable candidate or trying to relate to voters. To be successful, a candidate needs a team backing him that is able to bring in massive amounts of capitol as well as secure the nomination for one of the two major parties. Without these, a candidate, in this case Rick Santorum, will never be able to succeed in his goal of President.