Few people think Rick Santorum has a chance of winning the Wisconsin primary Tuesday, including Santorum, who will be in Pennsylvania election night. Not only is Santorum admitting he can't win Wisconsin, he's also admitting he won't win much for a whole month. "The map in May looks very, very good for us," Santorum said on Fox News on the very first day of April.
In February, Santorum had a double-digit lead over Romney in Wisconsin polls. The Midwest was where he was strongest, but recently he's been losing there, in Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois. It shows how far he's fallen that Monday he faced headlines like "Santorum Battles Perceptions That Race Is Over" (The Wall Street Journal) and "Romney Sees Wisconsin Win to Knock Santorum Out of Race" (Bloomberg) and "Santorum vows to stay in race" (The Washington Post). Santorum told reporters at a campaign stop Sunday that this only showed how scared Romney's supporters are. "A lot of people must be really concerned we’re going to do really well on Tuesday, so I’m encouraged by all of this," Santorum said, according to Politico's Juana Summers. "I think it shows that the establishment is getting nervous and we must be doing well and connecting with folks."
But The New York Times' Nate Silver argues that the biggest danger facing Romney now is a lack of nervousness. "Throughout the nomination process, Mitt Romney’s campaign has applied a sledgehammer approach to the delicate art of managing expectations," Silver writes. Romney has predicted victory in races where his lead wasn't huge, making a small win look like a loss. (Or, in Mississippi, making a big loss more embarrassing.) Silver writes that Romney's "9-point polling lead is not completely safe. Instead, it is in a little bit of a danger zone — just large enough that some of Mr. Romney’s potential voters might take a win for granted and stay home, which could open the door for Rick Santorum."
Perhaps with that in mind, Romney's own staff staged an April Fool's Day joke that would inspire a bit of anxiety into the most comfortable frontrunner. Romney stood behind the curtain at an event and waited through his introduction from Sen. Ron Johnson. His staff warned him that not many people showed up for the event, but "it'll be okay," Politico reports. Then, as Romney told a later audience, "the two of us go out there and it's completely empty... There is nobody there, it's like, oh this is going to look really bad on the evening news." His staff was holding the real crowd in a different room. Of the all-time worst nightmares for politicians, this perhaps ranks No. 2, right behind showing up to a packed event naked.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.