The Nonequivalent Blue State Origins of Romney and Santorum
A fascinating thread started by Diane Ellis looks at the question of Rick Santorum's earlier endorsement of the "moderate" Arlen Specter over "conservative" Pat Toomey. During the discussion, Professor Paul Rahe argued:
The notion that Santorum is less conservative than Romney is palpably superb. Both operated in blue states. Santorum gave us welfare reform; Romney gave us what even he calls Romneycare...
With all due respect to Professor Rahe, I'm not sure this is an apples-to-apples comparison. Let's go to the data:
- Governor: Since 1975, Massachusetts has had 8 governors. Half of these were Republicans. Over the same period, 4 of PA's 7 governors were Republicans. I'll concede this is a wash.
- House: During the 109th Congress (January 2005-January 2007), the final two years of Santorum's time in office, Republicans held 12 out of 19 congressional districts in Pennsylvania. However, they held 0 out of 10 in Massachusetts.
- Senate: Before Scott Brown, Republicans hadn't won a Senate race in Massachusetts since 1972. In Pennsylvania, however, Republicans have won 12 out of the 14 Senate races over the same period. (Ran out of fingers; hope my count is right.)
- President: Averaging out the last 5 presidential elections, MA is the bluest of the blue and PA is among the least blue of the blue.
All this to say -- again, with all due deference -- that Santorum's conservative accomplishments while a senator from Pennsylvania were probably not as difficult to achieve as, say, Romney's veto of emergency contraception, which earned him the lasting ire of NARAL. Santorum helped reform welfare. Terrific! But wasn't his political risk far less in so doing?