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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Finally, Rick Santorum is getting his surge.

The former Pennsylvania senator has been stuck at the bottom of the polls since he launched his presidential campaign, but now it looks like months of aggressively courting Iowa power-brokers and Republican base voters is paying dividends. Recent state surveys indicate that the conservative stalwart — he has touted his consistent willingness to confront the twin titanic threats of Iran and gay marriage — is rapidly gaining support, just days before the caucuses that will play an outsized role in determining the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

Public Policy Polling (PPP), the research firm that has been regularly conducting tracking polls of likely caucus-goers, finds Santorum’s support climbing to double-digits. And fresh Time magazine/CNN data released Wednesday pegged Santorum at 16 percent, on the cusp of the top tier for the first time.

It’s a bit of well-deserved good news for a candidate who has worked harder than any other on the ground in Iowa.

“Polls change; convictions don’t,” Santorum said when asked about his upswing by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “A lot of people are moving toward my position, trying to move toward the conservative primary.”

Santorum openly admits he lacks political sex appeal — but maintains he’s the serious candidate Republicans will turn to after they’ve had their kicks.

“I always tell the story about girls coming into the dance hall, walking past us and taking a turn with some other better-looking guys, and then at the end of the evening there’s old steady Eddie, who’s not flashy, but he’s the guy you know you want to take home to Mom and Dad,” he explained to The New York Times, referring to a high school anecdote he frequently uses on the campaign trail to burnish his image as a scrappy underdog.

But can Santorum rise fast enough for a January surprise? He’ll need Mitt Romney’s last-minute sprint to the finish line to fall short, and also for Republicans to reject Ron Paul and his unorthodox flavor of libertarian, Tea Party-infused conservatism.

Still, in a race that has seen the weird get weirder still, and in a state where Republicans have been known to take their caucus instructions from martial arts movie and “Bowflex” infomercial star Chuck Norris, crazier things have happened.

“Given his personal popularity, it’s worth keeping an eye on Santorum in the final week,” said Dean Debnam, president of PPP.

Their poll shows that Santorum’s personal favorability numbers are the highest of any candidate, and that he is the top “second choice” of Republican caucus-goers. His lack of gaffes and consistent attention to retail politics may help him to sweep up evangelical voters that have vacillated over time from Michele Bachmann to Rick Perry to Herman Cain to Newt Gingrich to (most recently) Ron Paul.

“Rick Santorum could be a real surprise,” former Dallas County GOP Chairman Rob Taylor told the Associated Press.

He performed well in the debates and has visited each of Iowa’s 99 counties, making a total of over 300 campaign stops and earning much goodwill from conservative activists in the process. And he’s been picking up the endorsement of some key Mike Huckabee backers from 2008 like Christian leader Bob Vander Plaats and rising conservative movement stars like Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz.

If the surge is real, the question becomes one of whether Santorum has the campaign organization to capitalize — whether he’s able to ride the momentum out of Iowa into success down the road in key primary states, as Huckabee failed to do after his victory last time around.

In the meantime, get ready for a photo finish as the results begin trickling in next Tuesday night.

  • ChristinaTorres

    Are you FREAKEN kidding me??!!?? Lol he’s not surging. He’s dropping. The only one surging in RON PAUL he’s #1. What is this CNN? Lol they won’t report RP either. Stop with the lies. We the People are done with the gov owned media

  • Jamie

    The above comment has so many private prejudices at work that it leaves no room for the facts. Seems hard to deny that Santorum is indeed rising. Several polls show it. I don’t like it either, but we are not entitled to our own facts. Yet.

  • jimmyags

    This is why average americans find Ron Paul supporters to be both funny and disturbing. No matter how many times he finishes in the bottom tier,his supporters can convince themselves that they are an overwhelming majority of the people.

  • jimmyags

    I have no doubt that he is surging,but everyone is falling victim to the old saying about not remembering the past and therefore being doomed to repeat it. This is 2008 all over again, where one by one the right wing fringe candidates get a brief surge and then as soon as they get the kind of attention that front runners get everyone is reminded of why they are on the fringe to begin with. Last time around it was Paul,Guilianni,THompson,Huckabee, etc. Who did the GOP nominate? The most moderate guy the had. This time it has been Cain,Gingrich,Santorum,Bachman and Paul, they all briefly rise to the top and then fade as people find out what kind of people they are. Republicans tried to impeach a president for lying about adultury and bury their head in the sand about Cain. They preach “family values” but overlook Gingrich’s sordid version of them. They call themselves the party of inclusion and make excuses for a bigoted anti- semite. The list goes on and on,yet somehow they convince themselves that most voters aren’t moderates,they are really looking for the fringe.

  • judith.hayes99

    As a Democratic Team Leader I do a GREAT DEAL of investigating the facts. I wish the News Media did thier jobs the same way, like they are supposed to. I have stacks of FACTS sitting next to me, of which I intend to get back to you on, but in the meantime, I truly don’t understand why the USA has a Republican Party!