Money Not Talking For Santorum

We all know that to every true conservative, political contributions are the very essence of constitutionally protected free speech, and those who can spend a lot more get to talk a lot louder.

For all his other issues–his Satan-talk, his hostility to contraception, his heretical votes for George W. Bush’s domestic agenda–the simple truth is that Rick Santorum is in danger of near-extinction today because he’s getting badly outspent. Per MSNBC this morning:

Here are the most up-to-date numbers for ad spending in the Super Tuesday states:
Ohio: pro-Romney $4 million, pro-Gingrich $739,000, pro-Santorum $950,000
Georgia: pro-Romney $1.5 million, pro-Gingrich $950,000, pro-Santorum $214,000
Tennessee: pro-Romney $1.3 million, pro-Gingrich $664,000, pro-Santorum $247,000
Oklahoma: pro-Romney $576,000, pro-Gingrich $422,000, pro-Santorum $182,000
Idaho: pro-Romney $126,000, pro-Santorum $3,000, pro-Paul $47,000
Vermont: pro-Romney $61,000, pro-Paul $55,000

So Team Santorum isn’t just getting crushed financially by Team Romney, but in two of Rick’s strongest states, it’s not keeping up with Team Gingrich, either. Or to put it another way, Foster Friess (who seems to have vanished from public view after his decision to share his rare humor on the subject of contraception) isn’t boosting the Red, White and Blue Fund at a pace that keeps it competitive with the blessings Sheldon Adelson is showering on Winning Our Future.

Since Rick lacks establishment support, significant endorsements, and any real organization (other than what he can borrow from some evangelical preachers), it’s no shock he’s been losing steam over the last week. Considering where he was the day before he narrowly lost Michigan, it’s been a long, quick ride down, and he could well find himself in Palookaville come sunrise tomorrow.

If Mitt does more or less wrap things up tonight, one of his accomplishments has to be that the competition never forced to reach into his own pocket (so far as we know). If, somehow, Santorum pulls off an upset tonight and Romney fails to meet even minimal expectations, Mitt always does have the option of self-funding to drown his rivals once and for all. His wife may suggest she doesn’t consider herself terribly wealthy (a reference, in fairness, to her overall well-being, not just her bank account), but hungry campaign consultants know otherwise.

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.