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10 Reasons Santorum will be the GOP Nominee

Former PA Senator Rick Santorum

If you haven’t heard of former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, you’re not alone. Though a former rising Republican star and 2012 candidate for President, Santorum polls poorly in terms of both name recognition and support.  Most in the media and GOP establishment have relegated Santorum to second or third–tier status and largely dismissed his candidacy.  Nonetheless, Santorum’s chances may not be as bleak as they appear.   Below are ten reasons why Santorum can ultimately triumph in the Republican primaries.

1. History of conservatism
If there’s one thing you should know about Rick Santorum, it’s that he is a conservative.   He has a lifetime conservative rating of 88 percent from the American Conservative Union (Ron Paul has a 77, by comparison) and is well-known for his hardline positions on social issues, such as gay marriage and abortion.  (Santorum once said that defending marriage between a man and a woman constituted the “ultimate homeland security.”)  In a year dominated by “mad as hell” voters and members of the Tea Party, Santorum may end up being the right man at the right time.

2. Picture–perfect family
Christmas card-esque views of Santorum’s family (a wife and seven children, the youngest of which is just 3 years old) were ubiquitous during his Senatorial campaign and commercials.  And so far, they have been just as visible during the 2012 race.   The Santorum family moved to Iowa for the campaign, and its members frequently appear at the ex-Senator’s public events.   It is conceivable that his young and attractive family will remind voters of Santorum’s relative youth and vitality — he is 53 years old, but looks a decade younger.   Moreover, it will contrast nicely the lack of young children from frontrunners Romney, Paul, Gingrich and Perry (Romney’s youngest child is thirty).

3. Iowa’s Evangelicals
Unlike early states with more moderate voters (such as New Hampshire and Florida), the first real contest of the 2012 campaign — the Iowa caucuses — is dominated by Evangelical Christians.  Indeed, experts estimate that a staggering 60 percent of Iowa Republican caucus attendees are Evangelicals.  Unlike most of the other 2012 candidates (who have spent careers and campaigns largely concerning fiscal issues), Santorum’s Senate tenure focused like a laser on social issues.  The former Senator is a deeply religious Catholic, and his down-the-line socially conservative positions have been well-documented over the last several decades (many of his views are outlined in his 2005 book, It Takes a Family).

4. Time spent politicking
Voters in the early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina tend to reward those candidates that devote themselves to retail politics, trekking across the respective states, shaking hands and kissing babies.  In this respect, Santorum is unparalleled.  According to the National Review, the former Senator has held 172 public events in Iowa (as of October 6), more than double his closest rival in that regard, Michele Bachmann.   If he keeps that up, such politicking – coupled with his decent Iowa campaign apparatus – is likely to pay serious political dividends.

5. Volatility of the field
According to political statistician and journalist Nate Silver, “[P]olling has been unusually volatile in this election cycle so far.  Believe it or not, there have been 10 different G.O.P. candidates to have led at least one poll of Republican voters since Jan. 1: Mr. Cain, Mr. Romney, Mr. Perry, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee.”   Accordingly, it is not ridiculous to assume that another candidate – Santorum, for example – could rise to the top of the polls in the coming months.

6. Need for anti-Romney
Across-the-board conservatives and Tea Party voters are desperate for an alternative to current GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney.   Romney, with his past of supporting abortion rights, civil unions and universal healthcare, is unpredictable, according to many members of the Republican base, who are actively looking for an “anti-Romney.”   Indeed, the longer Romney polls at the top of the GOP field, the more aggressively many Republican primary voters will court credible conservative candidates (like Santorum).

7. Neither Cain, Bachmann nor Perry has worked
The search for the anti-Romney has led voters, at times, to the camps of Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and, most recently, Herman Cain.   Nevertheless, all of those candidates have fallen in the polls just as quickly as they rose.  (Cain alone appears to still be riding a wave of momentum, but he is largely dismissed as a “flavor of the month,” and experts expect his poll numbers to crater back to Earth any day now.)  In light of the shortcomings of these candidates — from Perry’s stances on immigration and the HPV vaccine controversy, to Bachmann’s gaffes, to Cain’s lack of political experience — Republican voters may soon turn to Santorum.

8. Foreign policy credentials
Unlike any other candidate in the race (with the exception of Jon Huntsman, who is widely regarded as too moderate for most GOP primary voters), Santorum has significant foreign policy experience.  He spent eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee and, according to his website, authored both the “Syria Accountability Act” and the “Iran Freedom and Support Act.”  Although issues of foreign policy have taken a backseat to the economy (for good reason), they will undoubtedly surface as we get closer to the election.  That time may be a golden opportunity for Santorum.

9. Feisty debate performances
Unlike many of the other GOP candidates, whose debate performances have, at times, been widely panned by the media and political analysts, Santorum has been largely praised for his fiery debate performances.   According to the Wall Street Journal, “Santorum has, along with Mr. Romney, been the most consistently impressive debater.  Getting into scraps with other candidates has helped, and he’s had strong, even Reaganesque, moments on foreign policy.”  The six debates so far have been viewed by millions of potential primary voters, and Santorum has certainly made the most of this valuable television exposure.

10. Washington experience, but not “Washington”
Santorum served as a Senator from Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2007 and as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1991 to 1995.  Nonetheless, unlike other candidates (such as Perry), Santorum is not currently in office.  Indeed, Santorum may be a unique position to claim serious legislative experience and yet still tap into the current anti-incumbent, anti-Washington rage.

There are, of course, countless reasons — including weak fundraising, his decisive 2006 Senate loss, his “Google problem” and several far-right statements on gay rights — why Rick Santorum will not win the Republican Presidential nomination.  But there are just as many, if not more, reasons why frontrunners such as Romney and Perry won’t win it either.  Remember, at this time in 2007, Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani were the heavy favorites to win the Democratic and Republican nominations, respectively.  If nothing else, history has proven that when it comes to Presidential elections, anything can happen!

 

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