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A new poll shows Santorum in third place in Iowa.  Sure it is just one poll,  but like Rich Lowry says, the strongest argument against Santorum for people who want to like him has been that he had no chance.  When he looks like he is doing better, people will give themselves permission to support him.  Maybe.  That jibes with what I read.  The most common knock on Santorum I’ve read from orthodox conservatives isn’t ”well sure, but he seems waaaay too hot to attack Iran” or “he backed Arlen Specter against Pat Toomey.”  It is that his poll ratings are so low that supporting Santorum is unrealistic.  This is, in some ways the reverse of Gingrich’s situation a month ago.  A bunch of his supporters didn’t really like him or trust him but they thought he was a sure winner in the general election when he would kill Obama in the debates  The moment Gingrich showed political weakness, they were out the door.  Santorum has a pool of potential supporters that want to know that backing him isn’t a guaranteed waste of time.  A real spark of political life from Santorum and he could make some real gains real fast.  This poll (whatever its validity as a poll) along with a bunch of other smaller pro-Santorum stories over the last several weeks might finally get the Santorum campaign to critical mass.  This feels a lot like the moment when Cain won that straw poll (in Florida I think?) and that started a cycle of positive stories about Cain and his poll numbers zoomed.  A lot of people had already been liking Cain’s debate performances, Perry’s support was disintegrating and suddenly . . . boom! 

I disagree with Santorum on some stuff, (some tax policy,his opposition to homosexuals openly serving in the military, I’m not sure about his foreign policy instincts) but I respect his principles (and that he has some.)  He also seems to try to know what he is talking about.  He is right more often than he is wrong - by a lot.  I’m hoping to enjoy the Santorum boom.

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