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2012 GOP race: Could Rick Santorum actually win?
The social conservative has apparently timed his Iowa surge just right — and he could end up being the last, best non-Mitt candidate left standing
Rick Santorum's recent surge in Iowa's polls has some pundits suggesting that he could actually win the GOP nomination.
Rick Santorum's recent surge in Iowa's polls has some pundits suggesting that he could actually win the GOP nomination.
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second major poll has confirmed former Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-Pa.) timely surge in Iowa, just four days before Hawkeye State Republicans gather for their first-in-the-nation caucuses. With Mitt Romney and Ron Paul jousting for first, Santorum comes in a comfortable third. And data from a rival campaign's internal tracking poll shows that Santorum's numbers are probably still rising, feeding expectations that Santorum could stage a shocking come-from-behind victory in Iowa, says Stephen Hayes at The Weekly Standard. If the socially conservative dark horse does win Iowa, could he parlay that into a real run for the GOP nomination? 

Santorum has a real shot at the gold: Is Santorum "a long shot to win the nomination? Of course," says Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post. But if he shocks everyone in Iowa — and I predict "a slew of 'Wow! Rick Santorum!' stories" after Jan. 3 — he really could topple the Romney juggernaut, especially in the Jan. 21 South Carolina primary. Conservatives still looking to unite behind a non-Romney will appreciate that Santorum, unlike the others, has no "personal scandals or baggage to weigh him down."
"What's after Iowa for Santorum?"

Only pro-Romney shills are pushing Santorum: "Mainstream conservative outlets" are suddenly "hyping Rick Santorum" as a form of psychological warfare, says William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection. They know "he has no chance of mounting a serious challenge to Romney," and they are eager to crown Mitt the nominee. Well, "don't believe it for a minute." The voting hasn't even started, and either Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry could still win this.
"Don't fall for Operation Psych Out"

Santorum's only path is over a deflated Romney: Other than Mitt, no candidate has a shot at the nomination without a victory in Iowa, and Santorum "can make the most credible claim of any candidate about having momentum in the state," says Nate Silver at The New York Times. If Santorum does win Iowa — and I think he's got at least a 1-in-10 shot — Santorum can make it a two-man race with Romney. Then it's "a war of attrition" for the nomination. And remember, Romney has the money and the establishment support. Santorum could win, but it would take a major Romney implosion along the way.
"The Santorum surge in Iowa and beyond"

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