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February 8, 2012

Rick Santorum Gets New Life with Social Conservative Boost

The candidate has received mixed support from evangelical voters in previous primaries.

Rick Santorum surprised many by winning all three Republican contests yesterday in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota, suggesting that none of the Republican candidates have found a way to win consistently across the wide range of caucuses and primaries.

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Santorum showed once again that he can win in states where he can talk face-to-face with social conservatives. He barnstormed through the states, personally meeting with many conservative activists. The strategy worked. Santorum's margin of victory was unexpectedly wide.

The former senator from Pennsylvania won nearly twice the number of the votes in Missouri that Romney received (55 vs. 25 percent). In Minnesota, he received nearly three times the votes as Romney (45 vs. 17 percent). Romney performed better in Colorado than he did in other states, but Santorum still edged him out 40 to 35 percent.

"I don't stand here and claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney," Santorum said. "I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama."

A key to Santorum's victory was an excited, social conservative base willing to go to polls and caucuses, observers suggested. Santorum's evangelical base has proven to be more important in Midwestern states where social conservatives can mobilize voters to attend caucuses.


Santorum focused on his conservative base in his victory speech. Before the results from Colorado were announced, Santorum told a crowd of supporters that “Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota.”


While Santorum has consistently received most of his support from evangelicals, he has not been able to secure their votes in every contest. In other words, evangelical primary voters have strongly supported Santorum, but a majority of them have not always voted for Santorum.


In Iowa, evangelicals pushed him just over the finish line. In New Hampshire, Romney received a greater share of the evangelical vote than Santorum did even as evangelical support for Santorum was nearly four times that from other voters.


Santorum still needs to prove he can attract evangelical support in southern states. South Carolina evangelicals gave more support to Newt Gingrich. Florida evangelicals, however, mirrored other voters in backing Romney and Gingrich. Santorum lost South Carolina and the panhandle of Florida to Newt Gingrich because Gingrich, a former congressman from Georgia, captured more of the evangelical vote.


A week before the South Carolina primary, a group of evangelicals representing conservative political groups met and endorsed Santorum who rose to national prominence after his virtual tie with Mitt Romney in Iowa. In South Carolina, evangelical primary voters threw their support behind Gingrich. This support by so-called family value voters for the thrice married Gingrich led one long-time activist Tony Campolo to formerly renounce the label “evangelical” for his group Red Letter Christians. Evangelicals in South Carolina, Campolo said, had put politics before principles.


The next two primaries will take place in Arizona and Michigan before Super Tuesday. Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia will hold primaries on March 6. Super Tuesday will be the first test to see if any of the candidates can win outside their niche groups. If none of the candidates can break new ground, the race may be moving closer to a divided Republican national convention.

Comments

That billionaire standing next to Rick Santorum?
That ain’t nobody.
He’s just a good friend.

In this picture, Matt Schultz is standing behind the candidate. He is the Secretary of State in Iowa. He always has that smug look on his face when he is standing next to someone else who is just as arrogant and self-righteous. Fortunately, the economy is looking up, so the nomination doesn't matter. Remember, not all of us are Republicans.

I test everything by how it lines up with scripture. And then I pray and meditate on it. I am a Christian first, an American second and an Independant Conservative voter, third. With thoughtful, prayful consideration I will cast my vote for Santorium. By the time I have a chance to vote in NC, however, the nominee question may have been already settled. I pray for our country and her leaders. May faithful widsom and devoted practical sacrifice turn our nation from the pathways of greed and idolitary and false prophets.

It is vitally important to test everything by how it lines up with Scripture. When it comes to candidates for political office, I use an additional test as well: Will they obey the U.S. Constitution? Of all the Republican candidates, Ron Paul is the only one who passes this test.

Little Ricky's appeal to Protestant fundamentalists is ironic considering how 50 years ago they hated the Catholic President Kennedy. But some love power more than doctrine.

Double irony - in 1960 Kennedy assured Baptist ministers he was not a Catholic theocrat. in 2008 Romney made a similar speech saying he wouldn't take orders from Salt Lake just like Kennedy wouldn't from the Vatican with one exception: Kennedy said firmly he believed in separation of church and state. Romney did not because the Republican Primary electorate does not.

Something seems to be missing from the conversation regarding political candidates from a christian perspective, and that is the degree to which each person's favorite candidate seems to echo the biblical expectation of the importance of Truth. A long time ago someone wrote that the most significant problem facing the modern world is its understanding of and attitude to how we come to the truth. At the time I first read it, which was about 40 years ago, I thought it strange, but today the more I observe the current scene, the more relevant it becomes. I have noted many statements made by "evangelicals" that seem to have a very loose appreciation for truth, as I understand it. I note that recently when Mr. Santorum was asked about something in his book, he claimed it was something new to him, apparently forgetting he was asked the same thing when he was running for the senate, then he said his wife wrote that part of the book. How does that square with the biblical concept of truth? But the evangelical press apparently ignores such minor slips.

Sure the Evangelicals are giving Rick some love right now, but as soon as Newt screams at another media person, it will be one short lived romance. After all, telling off the media is very presidential, right S.C?

Now that Rick Santorum is finding fault with Obama's "theology", I am reminded of a similar reference to faulty "theology" alleged to have been held by Obama in the 2008 election. Is it not ironic that the person who made the charge in 2008, James Dobson of Focus On The Family is now reported to have endorsed Rick Santorum? The only problem is that if it were a power play as suggested by The Kangaroo, then he should have picked a contender with a higher probability of winning the nomination than Santorum. There is increasing talk of either a new candidate or a brokered convention, so it may be prudent to wait a little before giving an endorsement because the power brokers in the GOP do not seem to be happy with any of the current crop of candidates.