Before the second half of our conversation about the Louisiana primary being held today, Melissa led in with a personal tidbit from one of her guests, political scientist Matthew Wilson. She informed presidential candidate Buddy Roemer that Wilson, a Louisiana native, believed that he'd cast his first-ever vote for Roemer when he won the race for governor in 1987. That story had a twist:
...that was an election in which your opponents in Louisiana were a convicted felon, and an admitted Klansman, so...welcome to Louisiana, folks.
Indeed, Louisiana's political history is quite colorful, unique, and independent -- and as Wilson noted, considering the omnipresence of Catholicism in the state, that might be a byproduct of the ethnic history associated with the religion in America. But Melissa made note of the fact that Catholics there increasingly identify as just that: independent. In a discussion about the Catholic vote in advance of tonight's Republican primary results, Mother Jones reporter Adam Serwer made this observation:
The interesting thing about Catholics is that everybody's always talking about the Catholic vote -- but in some ways, I think that's actually identity signifying for Republicans to sort of signify traditional values...Catholics, as voters, aren't really these easily manipulated bloc of people.
So if Catholicism is used as a signifier for traditional values, will a victory by the traditional-values Republican in the race, Rick Santorum, be merely sound and fury? A Republican strategist interviewed by CNN seems pessimistic, saying "Santorum can't just win, he has to win big...He's the one who needs to 'shake up' this race. Another ho-hum win in the South doesn't cut it. He's on a political bridge to nowhere and is running out of time to change destinations."
Nate Silver of the New York Times
isn't exactly stretching when he predicts a Santorum victory
over Mitt Romney et. al. tonight, but seems to agree that the math is against the former Pennsylvania senator:
A win in Louisiana, however, would make only a fairly marginal difference in the delegate count. Although the state has 46 delegates, only 20 of those delegates are awarded based on the primary outcome (the rest are awarded at the state convention in June).
So beware all the proclamations of momentum and dire cries for Romney's candidacy when Santorum scores his likely win tonight. I may just signify nothing at all. To boot, Silver concludes by citing the Gallup national tracking poll
which shows "some Republicans who like Mr. Santorum but want to avoid a brokered convention are migrating to Mr. Romney."
(Melissa will have much more on the possibility of a brokered convention in tomorrow's show. See you at 10am ET tomorrow, #nerdland.)