Awesome Pennsylvania politics story today from Robert Costa at The National Review showing why Mitt Romney has a chance to deliver the knockout to Rick Santorum (the populous Philly collar counties should beat Santorum's vote to the west), and why Santorum's message is out of step with the state's GOP electorate.
On Romney's edge in Bucks, Delaware and Montgomery counties:
Three Republican congressmen with flinty, independent personalities — Mike Fitzpatrick, Pat Meehan, and Jim Gerlach — represent districts in this critical slice of the Keystone State. While Santorum has the support of a few House members elsewhere in Pennsylvania, Romney’s identification with this southeastern trio, in terms of his politics and sensibility, will be a bigger factor.
During the 2010 midterms, over 300,000 Republicans voted in the aforementioned three counties. In the scattered bucolic outposts that constitute Santorum Country, it was not unusual to see GOP turnout hover around 15,000 per county. Greater Pittsburgh saw over 200,000 Republicans show up, but even that metropolitan area was dwarfed by the Philadelphia suburbs, which remain the principal battleground.
On why Pat Toomey -- not 2004 Arlen Specter supporter Santorum -- is the real face of the state's GOP:
Toomey, now a senator, is a prime example of the kind of conservative that is now a winner in the Pennsylvania GOP. He is a former business owner, a fiscal hawk, and a social conservative, but he doesn’t lead with the latter. He is connected with tea-party groups, but his Wall Street ties, supply-side economic politics, and soft-spoken nature make him more than an anti-establishment outsider. Toomey 2012 has more in common with Romney 2012 than with Toomey 2004, the unsuccessful Senate challenger.
When Toomey won his Senate seat in 2010, he concentrated heavily on the economy. Toomey has working-class, Catholic roots but he did not emphasize his biography. He ran against Washington, but not necessarily against the Republican establishment. To win in Pennsylvania, he told me at a Lancaster, Pa., greasy spoon, you need to win across the suburban spectrum, not only within your base. “Those voters are not ideological; they’re practical,” he said. “They know that you can’t borrow and spend your way to prosperity.”