Who won the day? Rick Santorum
With the blessing of James Dobson, the top theocrat power broker behind the GOP, Rick Santorum has nudged the faltering Gingrich out of his spot. With Ron Paul fading and being attacked in the NOM ad, Santorum could easily become the newest best choice for Ohio Evangelicals.
At the start of the month, Rick Santorum needed the following things to happen in order for him to be competitive in Iowa: Newt Gingrich needed to fade. Evangelicals needed to move toward his campaign. Then voters needed to see some tangible sign of momentum, in order to speed up the tortoise-like pace of his Iowa campaign.
The former Pennsylvania senator has now gotten at least a dose of all three ingredients. Gingrich’s campaign has lost ground in every recent Iowa poll. Santorum won the endorsement of a number of high-profile Christian conservatives, including the head of The Family Leader. And today, Santorum placed third in an Iowa poll for the first time, running fairly close behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul in a CNN/Time magazine survey.
The survey may not be all it’s cracked up to be: it only tested Republican voters, even though non-Republicans can get access to the caucuses. But it also followed a PPP poll released Tuesday night showing that Santorum has the highest net favorability rating of any Republican candidate in Iowa.