It’s turning into a tidal wave, particularly in the Midwest. What am I talking about? The rapid rise of Rick Santorum in the polls. All you have to do is watch the faces and hear the incredulity in the voices of cable news hosts to know that something is happening that was more than a little unexpected.
A series of new polls coming out of Michigan show Santorum leading Romney anywhere from four points to fifteen. Not a single one favors Romney at this time. Then there is the shocker out of Ohio, a Rasmussen poll showing Santorum with a 42-24 advantage. Even Arizona, where the Santorum forces decided not to waste money because it is a winner-take-all primary like Florida’s, and polls showed Romney with a big lead, now sits at Romney 38%, Santorum 31%. It appears GOP voters continue to have a hard time coming to grips with a Romney candidacy.
Commentators have begun searching for weaknesses in Santorum. They think they’ve found them on social issues. They believe voters will eventually be turned off by his lack of support for contraception and his opposition to gay marriage. First, if we’ve come to the point where opposition to homosexuals demanding marriage is a losing proposition, we’re beyond the pale as a country anyway. I appreciate Santorum standing firm on that one. If that’s a losing position, it’s also a principled and honorable one. Second, Santorum has no plans to make Americans accept his views on contraception. Even those of us who don’t agree with his stance completely on that one know what his aim is—to reduce sexual immorality and enhance the status of marriage and family. As long as he frames these positions carefully and positively, he can win with them.
The biggest problem remaining for Santorum appears to be Newt Gingrich. He hasn’t yet come to the realization that his opportunity has passed him by. He’s even less desirable for Republican voters than Romney.
He used to lecture Santorum to drop out of the race so as not to split the conservative vote. It’s time for Newt to take his own advice.