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Road to Victory 2012: How Rick Santorum Can Win the Nomination by Super Tuesday

In case you’re not aware, in the closest vote in Iowa Caucus history, Mitt Romney beat out Rick Santorum by 8 votes. One week ago, Santorum was in the single digits. Considering his strong showing in IA and Conservative desperation to support a formidable alternative to Romney, the money and poll numbers will start flowing Santorum’s way. Bachmann’s departure will most assuredly help Santorum more than anyone else. People are skeptical that Santorum can make it. I’m optimistic that he can. Here’s how I think Santorum could wrap up the nomination battle by Super Tuesday.

New Hampshire(1/10/12): Santorum’s got no shot at winning here. The best he can shoot for is third place. One thing that could really hurt Mitt Romney is Newt Gingrich’s attacks on him going into NH. Gingrich may not reasonate, but his attacks just might. If some of those attacks stick, we could be looking at either a narrow Romney victory over Ron Paul or an outright defeat of Romney. I currently think Romney will win with 34%, versus Paul’s 29%, Santorum’s 19%, Jon Huntsman Jr’s 9%, Gingrich’s 6%, and Rick Perry’s 3%. Huntsman would drop out and endorse Romney, but seeing how thin Huntsman’s support is, I don’t see how that particularly helps Romney.

South Carolina(1/21/12): This will be the big fight. A make or break moment for Santorum, and Perry’s last stand. Santorum must unify the Evangelical vote behind him in order to win. Romney only needs a Perry/Santorum split to win. I see Santorum unifying the Evangelicals(who will realize soon enough that Perry is doomed) and winning SC with 44%, versus Romney’s 28%, Gingrich’s 15%, Perry’s 9%, and Paul’s 4%. Perry would drop out and, like Bachmann, not endorse anybody, and his voters would largely go to Santorum, with the rest going to Gingrich.

Florida(1/31/12): Another make or break moment for Santorum, and Gingrich’s last stand. Gingrich must win over the large senior vote that has flocked in droves to the home of the fountain of youth in the past few decades in order to win. Santorum, buoyed by his win in SC, must win over the Grassroots Conservatives, for which an endorsement from Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Rick Scott, and/or Congressman Allen West would go a long way. I see Santorum unifying the Grassroots Conservatives and winning FL with 39%, versus Romney’s 29%, Gingrich’s 21%, and Paul’s 11%. Out of money, out of hope, and verging on destruction, Gingrich drops out and endorses Santorum.

Nevada(2/4/12): Santorum’s got no shot at winning here. This is viewed by many as a Romney stronghold, but this could be what breaks Romney. Why? Paul polled a formidable second place here in 2008, and with his organization and the number of youth voters in the Las Vegas area, he could poll either a narrow second or actually beat out Romney, delivering the fatal blow to Romney’s campaign. Don’t worry, Romney will be in this until Super Tuesday, but by this point, his once great chances at the Presidency have just about vanished overnight.

Maine(2/4/12-2/11/12): With the support of Governor Paul LePage(and the forthcoming support of Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, if they’ve not endorsed him already), Romney’s got a decent advantage going in. Santorum only has a remote chance here. I see Romney prevailing 47-36-17 over Santorum and Paul.

Colorado(2/7/12): There’s not been any polling from Colorado for one month, but the last one showed Gingrich up 19 over Romney. Considering all that’s gone on by this time and vote pockets in Boulder and Denver, Paul starts this one out with a built-in advantage. Paul prevails over Santorum and Romney 40-31-29.

Minnesota(2/7/12): With Bachmann not endorsing anybody and former Governor Tim Pawlenty behind Romney, Romney’s chances are pretty good here. Santorum still may have a decent shot, though. At this point, I see Romney winning by a 45-39-16 margin over Santorum and Paul.

Arizona(2/28/12): Senator and 2008 GOP Presidential nominee John McCain’s endorsement is supposed to help Romney, right? Not necessarily. McCain’s job approval numbers have been flagging for the better part of a year, and is now almost as unpopular in AZ as Joe Lieberman is in Connecticut. With the high volume of Conservative Republicans in AZ accounted for, I see Santorum winning Arizona with 49%, versus Romney’s 38% and Paul’s 13%.

Michigan(2/28/12): Michigan, the state that elected Mitt’s father, George Romney, to the Governorship way back when. For this reason, Romney’s home free here. Santorum’s got no chance. Romney wins with 54%, versus Santorum’s 37% and Paul’s 9%.

Washington(3/3/12): There has been no polling on this, so there is no way to tell.

And then it’s on to Super Tuesday, where Santorum attains the GOP nomination for President of the United States of America.

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