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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: Alabama

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March 17, 2012 at 6:26 AM

If Lehigh and Norfolk State can do it in the NCAA tournament, can Rick Santorum upend the Republican presidential contest?

For sports fans, this time of the year is known as March Madness. That’s the popular name ascribed to the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, in which small schools, serious underdogs, sometimes defeat bigger, far wealthier, steeped-in-tradition programs.

March Madness is the official name of the NCAA basketball tournament (logo by NCAA).

It happened four times yesterday.

Two teams that are #15 seeds (among the lowest in the tournament), Norfolk State and Lehigh, upset #2 seeds and hoop icons Missouri and Duke, respectively. In the history of the NCAA men’s tourney, only four #15 seeds had beaten #2 seeds. It happened twice yesterday.

Further, a #13 seed, Ohio University, upset one of the legendary sports programs in the nation, University of Michigan.  And a #12 seed, University of South Florida, knocked off a #5, Temple.

It was quite a day. Personally, I’m a huge Michigan fan — but I found myself caught up in rooting for the underdog Ohio U. Watching David knock off Goliath is something special.

There are favorites and underdogs in politics, too. And right now, the underdog has got a shot in the Republican Party presidential primary. It’s a long, long, long shot — but it’s still a chance. And when there is a chance, sometimes things happen. Like in 2008.

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Comments | Topics: Alabama, Bill Clinton, Caucuses

March 15, 2012 at 5:45 AM

Republican primary fight hurting candidates, not good for any of us

The final four Republican Party presidential candidates (photo by Politico)

The Republican Party presidential contest descended into schoolyard name-calling this week.

It began when Newt Gingrich on Sunday blasted Mitt Romney as “probably the weakest Republican frontrunner since Leonard Wood in 1920” — a classic I’m-the-smartest-on-the-playground insult for which Gingrich has no political peer. Romney responded the next day with his best blue-blood neener-neener: he pointed to his greater than 3-to-1 lead in delegates over the Georgian, and said, “If I’m a weak frontrunner, what does that make Newt Gingrich?”

On Tuesday morning before primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, Romney blustered that his closest competitor, Rick Santorum, was at the “desperate end” of his campaign. Santorum won both primaries that evening, and Wednesday morning a Santorum adviser lobbed his best your-mama comeback. He invoked a Romney vacation in which the candidate did something unusual, and said the Santorum campaign wasn’t about to listen to the “value judgment of a guy who strapped his own dog on the top of a car and went hurling down the highway.”

A double-dog dare is next, I’m sure.

This is not helping the GOP. Or any else, for that matter.

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Comments | Topics: Alabama, Barack Obama, Democrats

March 14, 2012 at 5:30 AM

Romney's problems with evangelicals doomed him in Alabama and Mississippi, will likely continue

Rick Santorum is Roman Catholic. This is not news: he is far from shy about his Catholicism. More generally, he is as outspoken about religious faith as any major presidential candidate who’s had success has ever been.

Santorum swept Republican presidential primaries in Alabama and Mississippi last night. This is no small matter. Catholics don’t win GOP primaries often, and certainly not in the South, where evangelicals make up large percentages of the Republican electorate. Among yesterday’s voters, 74% in Alabama self-identified as evangelical, and 80% in Mississippi self-identified as evangelical.

I study religion and politics in America. I find it almost impossible to believe that Santorum would be winning Republican primaries in the South were his central rival for the nomination, Mitt Romney, not Mormon in religious faith.

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Comments | Topics: advertising, Alabama, Caucuses