The Rise of Santorum, Primary Results for 7 February 2012

“All these primary impulses, not easily described in words, are the springs of man’s actions.” – Albert Einstein

Yesterday saw the presidential primary in Missouri and caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado. (Note that the Missouri primary is non-binding, and delegates to the convention will be chosen at caucuses in March; but winning there isn’t meaningless for the same “momentum” rationale often discussed in early primary states.) The big winner: Rick Santorum. And when I say “big winner” I mean it could not have gone better for Santorum – he won all three.

Now, in actual delegates awarded on the day it was Santorum 11, Romney 6, Paul 5, Gingrich 3 – hardly moving the needle. However, the win for Santorum obviously pushes him into contention as the non-Romney and non-Paul choice (versus Gingrich). I suspect that whichever of those two holds on to that title will find themselves with a decent shot at the nomination. Current Real Clear Politics averages put the primary-voting-population at 34.5% Romney, 23.0% Gingrich, 17.5% Santorum, 14.3% Paul. Paul is unlikely to lose ground – people who vote for him vote with purpose and conviction that won’t be ceded on “electability” grounds. Will Romney move up? If he has some card to play that will get him off the abysmally low numbers of a front-runner, then why hasn’t he played it yet? It is the Gingrich-Santorum race that is the one to watch. If one of those two bows out, the other will get a vast majority (80%?) of the supporters – which could easily move them into a tie for front-runner.

Now, I’m not a huge Santorum fan. I think his politics give a little too much credence to theocracy – which is a tenuous place for a democracy to find itself. If you’re a Christian, consider for a moment what is meant by “morality of the majority” – do we really believe that the majority will not rebel against God? And yet a majority submitted to God (and rightly interpreting the Bible) is what would be necessary for theocracy to be anything other than dangerous.

That said, on the two most important issues – abortion and central banking – Santorum at least sounds reasonable. He’s pro-life. He’s argued for at least auditing the Federal Reserve – which is a step in the right direction, which would be to abolish the Federal Reserve. Further, Santorum could plausibly rally the evangelical vote, which is key to winning a number of swing states.

So, the nomination process is far from over. Romney is far from appointed. Santorum pulled off a stunning three-state-win on Tuesday, and could well move into serious contention as the anti-Romney.

Yes, I’m still holding out hope that wisdom will prevail and all of these voters will turn to Ron Paul. But, barring that, the entry of Santorum into the discussion is at least worth, well, discussion.

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