How much can Rick Santorum help Matt Schultz in IA-03? (updated)

To no one’s surprise, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum endorsed Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s campaign in Iowa’s third Congressional district today. The official statement, enclosed below, mentions that Santorum supported Schultz’s campaign for secretary of state in 2010, and that the following year, Schultz became the only statewide elected official to endorse a candidate before the Iowa caucuses, picking Santorum with less than a month to go.

I had to laugh at Santorum praising Schultz for “insuring each vote counts” only a day after news broke that at least three eligible Iowa voters had their ballots wrongly tossed out in 2012. (A separate post is in progress on that story.)

For now, let’s briefly consider how much Santorum and his Patriot Voices PAC can help Schultz in a primary against five other declared candidates, and possibly more before the filing deadline in March.

UPDATE: The Freedom Works PAC also endorsed Schultz this week. Added more details at the end of this post.  

The secretary of state has never been a strong fundraiser, so any financial assistance from a PAC or its mailing list will be most welcome. Santorum also promises to campaign with Schultz around IA-03 "soon."

Although not everyone who backed Santorum in the 2012 caucuses still leans toward supporting him for president, I would assume that most Republicans who caucused for the former senator retain a favorable view of him. I question how easily that will transfer to his preferred candidate in a primary where several others are campaigning as fiscal and social conservatives. Then again, Santorum will likely draw more people to campaign events than Schultz could attract on his own.

Of the sixteen counties in IA-03, Polk (containing Des Moines and most of its suburbs) is the largest by far with 81,570 active registered Republicans as of January 2014 (pdf). To put that number in perspective, nearly half of the 164,176 active registered Republicans in the whole Congressional district live in Polk County.

Pottawattamie County has the second largest number of active registered Republicans (20,719), followed by Dallas County (16,407). Mitt Romney won all three counties in the 2012 caucuses. Santorum placed a close second in Pottawattamie, a distant second in Dallas, and third in Polk. Santorum did gain the most votes in Warren County (the fourth largest in IA-03) and in eight other counties in the district (Guthrie, Page, Cass, Adair, Madison, Mills, Montgomery, and Ringgold). But most of those are far smaller than Polk, Pottawattamie, and Dallas. You can view the latest voter registration totals in all sixteen counties here.

For now, Schultz is the only candidate in the field with a strong base in Pottawattamie County, having served on the Council Bluffs city council before being elected secretary of state. So I’ll assume he can outperform Santorum in that part of the district. To win the primary outright with at least 35 percent of the vote, he will need to surpass Santorum’s showing in Polk and Dallas by far. Granted, Schultz has championed issues popular with the GOP base, but several other candidates running in IA-03 also have a good story to tell conservative activists.

Given the competitive U.S. Senate race as well as the open seat in IA-03, I anticipate much higher turnout for this year’s GOP primary than for the last presidential-year caucuses. A little more than 120,000 Iowans showed up to Republican precinct caucuses in 2012, whereas nearly 230,000 Iowans cast ballots in the 2010 Republican primary for governor.

I would also guess that Republicans who vote in statewide primaries but don’t attend caucuses may be less engaged with some of the social conservative issues that drive many caucus-goers. Santorum’s seal of approval won’t help Schultz with those people and could even hurt him.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

SANTORUM & PATRIOT VOICES PAC ENDORSE IOWA’S MATT SCHULTZ FOR CONGRESS

Posted by Patriot Voices 1351pc on January 30, 2014 · Flag

VERONA, PA – 2012 Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus victor, former U.S. Senator, and Chairman of Patriot Voices Rick Santorum endorses Matt Schultz for Congress in Iowa’s 3rd congressional district.

Rick Santorum said, “I first met Matt Schultz in early 2010 when I visited Council Bluffs, Iowa for a luncheon to support the Pottawattamie County Republican Party.  After lunch, Matt and I visited one-on-one, getting to know more about each other and talking about our mutually shared vision for our nation.  From that day forward, it was clear to me that Matt was a strong leader, great family man, and a leading face in a new generation of conservatives ready to return our nation to a path of prosperity.”

“The American people need courageous leaders in Congress to do the right thing for their constituents and the nation, and no candidate better epitomizes this brand of bold leadership more than Matt Schultz.  As Iowa’s Secretary of State, Matt has led the fight for voter integrity and insuring each vote counts.  I have no doubt that Matt will bring this same leadership to the Halls of Congress on issues like fiscal responsibility and job creation for working families.  My wife Karen and I are both proud to wholeheartedly endorse Matt’s candidacy.  I look forward to joining Matt on the campaign trail soon,” concluded Santorum.

Matt Schultz currently serves as Iowa’s Secretary of State.  During the 2012 presidential primaries, Schultz was the only Iowa statewide official to endorse a candidate for President, endorsing Senator Santorum in December 2011.  Santorum also endorsed Schultz’s campaign for Iowa Secretary of State in 2010.

Paid for by Patriot Voices PAC and authorized by Schultz for Iowa.

UPDATE: Also this week, the conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks PAC endorsed Schultz in the IA-03 primary. The group’s press release called Schultz and two other endorsed candidates the “clear choice for limited-government voters looking to preserve economic freedom and rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending.” FreedomWorks PAC added, “Matt Schultz is a constitutional conservative who will answer to constituents, not K Street. Iowans deserve a representative that [sic] will care more about the people in the Third District than the lobbyists in the Ditrict of Columbia.”

I wonder whether Schultz would have supported the five-year farm bill that passed the House this week with the support of all four Iowans. FreedomWorks strongly opposed its passage. I didn’t see any comment about the farm bill on Schultz’s Facebook or Twitter feeds.

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