Santorum Picks Up Steam in the Palmetto State

Judging from the latest Rasmussen poll of South Carolina Republicans, Rick Santorum’s near-win in Iowa has generated a huge amount of momentum for the former Pennsylvania senator. While Mitt Romney leads the survey with 27 percent support from like Republican primary voters, Santorum is close behind with 24 percent support. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in third with 18 percent support, and Ron Paul takes the 4th place spot with 11 percent support. Far behind the rest are Texas Governor Rick Perry with 5 percent support, and Jon Huntsman with a scant 2 percent of the vote.

As Rasmussen notes, the numbers are fluid, and so the overall number is less important than the trend, which leans heavily in Santorum’s favor. Put another way, Romney should be thankful for Rick Perry’s decision to stay in the race, and annoyed with Bachmann’s decision to call it quits. If Perry had dropped out, as was predicted on night of Iowa, there’s a fair chance that his support would have gone to Santorum, giving the candidate a nice boost over Romney. Likewise, if Bachmann had stayed in, she would have divided the vote even further, and kept Santorum from approaching Romney in the polls.

To go back to a point I made yesterday, if the anti-Romney candidates really want to beat the former Massachusetts governor, their best option is to just drop out, and let the conservative vote coalesce around a single candidate.

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