Rush’s Gift to Romney?

In an update to his Super Tuesday projections, 538’s Nate Silver discussed Rick Santorum’s sagging position in many polls (aside from Romney’s gains against him in Ohio and elsewhere, Newt Gingrich, who’s having yet another final spasm of momentum, could skunk him in Georgia and knock him out of the top spot in Tennesse) and made this rather interesting observation:

Mr. Santorum’s campaign — unlike Mr. Romney’s and to a lesser extent Mr. Gingrich’s — has lacked the muscle to turn the narrative around after some rough patches. This would have been a good week for Mr. Santorum to roll out endorsements, or to focus a line of attack upon Mr. Romney, but little of that has been apparent.

Instead, the past week has been relatively light for horse-race coverage, with much of the political world instead focused on the Rush Limbaugh controversy. With no debates — and Mr. Santorum’s loss in Washington representing the major story — there has been nothing to stop his downward trajectory.

It would be ironic if Limbaugh, who has on occasion channeled conservative mistrust of Romney, managed to help him win crucial Super Tuesday victories by hogging the attention of the chattering classes. For all we know, Mitt’s made a few more gaffes about his personal wealth or dissed conservative legislation, and nobody noticed. If so, no wonder Romney’s gone so easy on the old bully in his hour of need.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.