Washington State has never been a deciding force in the Republican presidential nomination. But this year, poised as we are between the Michigan and Arizona primaries and the electoral orgy of Super Tuesday, Washington caucusgoers on Saturday, March 3, could be handing momentum to an underdog candidate.
Every major candidate except for Mitt Romney has visited Washington in the last couple of weeks. The flood started, as it often does, with a Santorum sighting. And Ron Paul's incredibly well-organized appearance in SeaTac with more than 1,000 attendees—by far the largest audience any Republican candidate has drawn—and Newt Gingrich's recent crowds in Federal Way and Everett seem to indicate that Washington Republicans are sick of being ignored.
Speaking to an agitated crowd in Federal Way last Friday, Gingrich declared that President Obama wants to be "president of the wrong country," that he has "declared war on the Catholic Church," that he wants to elevate gas prices to $10 a gallon so he can choose which kind of tiny car you get to drive, and that the "silver bullet" to lowering gas prices was to get Obama out of the White House. One elderly woman in the audience hissed that gas taxes, along with "Marxist" Barack Obama, were "evil."
It was the most bloodthirsty mob of Republicans we've seen around here since the first Tea Party rally in Westlake Park on April 15, 2009.
But Romney isn't even trying to ride the Washington Republican rage bus. Despite being the front-runner, Romney sent his lesser son Josh as his proxy—meaning Dad couldn't even spare Craig, whose shirtless photos were causing gays and ladies to swoon all over the internet a couple weeks ago.
Truth is, a Romney win in Saturday's caucuses is doubtful; part of the reason he's kept his distance from Washington is so his people can claim that he didn't even try here. More likely is another win for an underdog. If the Public Policy Polling Washington numbers from February 21 are correct and Santorum clobbers Romney by an 11-point spread, maybe with a second-place showing for Paul, and (a guy can dream) a third-place Gingrich victory, the likely upshot is a boost in the press for Santorum, paired with a drubbing of Romney's arrogance in not hunting down every last vote.
Still, the biggest winner of the last few weeks is November's Democratic Party slate, including referendums on gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana. When Romney wins the nomination and his people take control of the Republican Party, they'll consign Washington to the can't-win category, and all the drooling masses who poured out in droves for a real live Republican candidate will again be abandoned by their own party. It's going to be totally demeaning to be a Republican in Washington this November—maybe enough to keep them away from the polls entirely. Mitt Romney simply doesn't give a shit about them, and he never did.