Rick Santorum’s departure from the presidential race could not come soon enough for Mitt Romney. In proving himself more tenacious than anyone predicted, Santorum dramatized one of Romney’s major problems, created another, and forced the now inevitable Republican nominee into a strategic dilemma.
Republicans may condemn class warfare, but their primaries turned into a class struggle. Romney performed best among voters with high incomes, and was consistently weaker with the white working class, even in the late primaries where he put Santorum away. And Romney cannot win without rolling up very large margins among less well-off whites.
At the same time, Santorum’s strength among evangelical Christians pressured Romney to toughen his positions even as the Republican Party as a whole, at both the state and national levels, has pushed policies on contraception and abortion that have alienated many women, particularly the college educated.
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