Rick Santorum’s amateur hour

Only one of these two has focused on campaign infrastructure.
Only one of these two has focused on campaign infrastructure.
Associated Press

Of all the Super Tuesday contests tomorrow, Ohio’s Republican primary is arguably the highest-profile race, and the results will garner the most attention. Polls show Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum running neck and neck.

But even if Santorum fares well tomorrow in Ohio, his campaign’s logistical and organizational weaknesses will apparently cost him dearly.

Rick Santorum was already known as starting from a deficit, delegate-wise, in Ohio. He failed to qualify for any district delegates in three Ohio congressional districts because he didn’t turn in delegate names there.

But his delegate troubles go deeper. According to the Ohio Republican Party tonight, the former Pennsylvania U.S. senator filed incomplete delegate slates in six additional Ohio districts.

Altogether, this means Santorum, who until this week had a fair lead in polls in the Republican nominating race, could be ineligible for 18 Ohio district delegates.

Ohio has 66 delegates total, 63 at stake next Tuesday. The candidate with the most delegates wins. Santorum therefore goes into the Ohio primary election with a 29 percent deficit.

This dovetails with a point we discussed a few weeks ago – campaign organization matters and Santorum’s is awful. When a candidate has a weak and disjointed operation, it’s inevitable that it will struggle in ways that have nothing to do with the candidate’s message or appeal.

In Santorum’s case, we’re talking about a campaign that, as recently as mid-February, didn’t have a national press secretary, a national headquarters, a pollster, or any paid advance staffers to ensure his campaign events run smoothly. Team Santorum failed to get a slot on the primary ballot in Virginia, and also apparently forgot to do its due diligence when it comes to delegate selection in Ohio.

Putting aside everything else we know about these candidates, serious national campaigns don’t screw up like this.

The Romney campaign, not surprisingly, pounced on this, and for a change, this is a Romney attack with merit. The former governor’s aides were only too pleased to note that Santorum also failed to file a complete slate in Tennessee, failed to get on the ballot at all in the District of Columbia, and failed in four of the upcoming Illinois congressional districts.

Of course, the next question for Romney and his team is a little awkward: why haven’t you already beaten this woefully unorganized candidate with no campaign infrastructure?

Rick Santorum's amateur hour