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EDITOR OF REDSTATE

Rethinking Santorum: Conventional Wisdom Finally Catches Up to Where I Was Two Weeks Ago

This morning I noted that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich together get more votes than Romney and several polls out in the past few weeks have had Santorum votes going to Gingrich. That has been the convention wisdom.About two weeks ago I decided the conventional wisdom was wrong, but having been told for two weeks I was wrong, I made the mistake of sticking with the conventional wisdom this morning.Suddenly the new conventional wisdom is where I was back on January 12 and reflected as recently as last week in my Horserace poll.
The reality is, polling has taken a while to process Marianne Gingrich and many pundits still don’t get evangelicals and have been convinced conservative evangelicals would not go with a Mormon.In fact, as the Marist poll now shows and shapes anew the conventional wisdom toward where I’ve been, evangelical voters don’t care that Romney is a Mormon. They do care that Newt Gingrich is on his third wife, having left the first for the second and the second for the third.Moreso, as evangelical leaders told me the night of the South Carolina election, serious discussions have been had about keeping Santorum in the race to keep Gingrich from rising. But as more and more arrived at the conclusion that Santorum actually hurts Romney, less have felt it necessary to send big bucks to Santorum to keep him in.The concern many evangelicals have is on social and family issues, which many think could not be adequately discussed if Newt Gingrich were the nominee. We are starting to see the shift to Mitt Romney, begrudgingly, not because they like him but because reality is setting in that Santorum cannot win and Newt Gingrich has too much personal baggage for many evangelicals to get past.Ultimately, I think a Santorum departure becomes a wash with Santorum voters fracturing mostly toward Romney, but with a significant minority to Gingrich and undecideds still out there leaning toward Gingrich making Santorum’s departure not as meaningful as some might otherwise want to believe, though definitely tightening it drawing Gingrich closer to Romney.

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