The Rise of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum was robbed… or so I thought. Mitt Romney was declared the winner of the Iowa Caucuses by a mere eight votes. It might have been symbolic, but it supported the widespread opinion that Romney was the front runner and perhaps unbeatable. Then, a second count of the ballots showed that 1) Rick Santorum seemed to be the winner but 2) some ballots were lost, so the outcome was named a “virtual tie.”

Okay, that’s old history but worth recapping for just a moment. Because now, after a week of social issues wrangling — particularly between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church over contraceptive coverage — Rick Santorum appears to be the GOP frontrunner.

Here’s a bit from the New York Times:

A survey conducted Wednesday through Sunday by the Pew Research Center shows Mr. Santorum with 30 percent of the vote among Republican and Republican-leaning voters, virtually tied with Mr. Romney, who has 28 percent. A month ago in the survey, Mr. Romney held a commanding lead over Mr. Santorum, 31 percent to 14 percent.

A separate national poll by Gallup also conducted Wednesday through Sunday shows a similar surge for Mr. Santorum. The Gallup poll also has both men essentially tied, with Mr. Romney at 32 percent and Mr. Santorum at 30 percent. A Gallup poll released a week ago, on Feb. 5, showed Mr. Santorum at 16 percent, well behind Mr. Romney at 37 percent.

He did win three (non-delegate-granting) contests, but could the momentum relate more to how starkly social issues have taken the fore?

About Farai Chideya

Farai has combined media, technology, and socio-political analysis during her 20-year career as an award-winning author and journalist. She is a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. She contributes to print, public radio, and cable television; and she also hosts a series of town hall meetings in both New York and San Francisco, with New York Public Radio and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, respectively. You can see an archive of her 2010 midterm election specials -- which foreshadowed some of the current political and immigration debates -- at PopandPolitics.com, which she founded in 1995.