RSS
Is Rick Santorum the GOP frontrunner... for 2016?
The GOP's second-place finisher often starts the next presidential primary as the clear favorite — just ask Mitt Romney
 
Rick Santorum may have a tough time reaching the 1,144-delegate threshold needed to secure the GOP nomination: He has roughly 220 delegates to Mitt Romney's 450.
Rick Santorum may have a tough time reaching the 1,144-delegate threshold needed to secure the GOP nomination: He has roughly 220 delegates to Mitt Romney's 450.
Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

The delegate math is looking grim for Rick Santorum, with many political analysts seeing no plausible way for him to collect the 1,144 delegates he'll need to win the Republican presidential nomination outright. But even if Santorum comes up short this year, he won't necessarily have to permanently shelve his White House dreams. Mitt Romney was in the same boat in 2008, and finishing second behind that year's nominee, Sen. John McCain, set him up to be the party's widely accepted frontrunner when the 2012 campaign kicked off. Will Santorum's strong showing in these primaries make him the candidate to beat in 2016?

Yes. Santorum will be the anointed one in 2016: Santorum's campaign isn't really about 2012 anymore, says Brian Mann at North County Public Radio. It's about laying a solid foundation for 2016 by proving to party insiders and donors that his message resonates with the conservative base. "Half a year ago, Santorum was literally a nobody, a former senator who got smoked in his last election." Today, "he's a legitimate contender" who's establishing himself "as the guy 'next in line' for the GOP nomination."
"Santorum in 2016"

No way. Insiders will brush Santorum aside: If Romney is nominated and loses, says Daniel Larison at The American Conservative, Republicans will be so desperate to win after eight years of President Obama that "there will be no enthusiasm for risking another election on someone as provocative as Santorum." The fact that he's not being written off now is "a fluke produced by dissatisfaction with Romney." In 2016, Santorum will be "brushed aside in the rush to support whichever 2012 fantasy candidates choose to run."
"The future does not belong to Santorum"

Santorum might start strong, but he'll flame out fast: Santorum might begin 2016 as the frontrunner, says Patrick Caldwell at The American Prospect, "but he'll quickly fizzle out." He "has had the great fortune of running in a remarkably weak field" this year, but the GOP "will have a much deeper bench next time around." There will be a parade of candidates — from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — with enough experience to make them "stronger candidates than Santorum."
"Santorum for president round 2"

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week