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Santorum's Working Class Opportunity

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks during Michigan Faith & Freedom Coalition rally in Shelby Township, Mich., Friday, Feb. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)(Paul Sancya/AP)

February 17, 2012

The Michigan primary will test one of the most common- but as yet unproven - assumptions in the Republican presidential race: the expectation that Rick Santorum will be a strong candidate for blue-collar voters.

From the moment Santorum emerged as a serious contender in Iowa, many analysts (present company included) have assumed he would run well among the growing ranks of non-college white voters in the Republican electorate. On a policy level, Santorum stresses his determination to rebuild the nation's manufacturing capacity and laments the decline of upward mobility for working-class Americans in language rare among Republicans. On a personal level, Santorum highlights his years growing up in Western Pennsylvania steel country, and his grandfather's experience as a miner; he also projects a regular-guy aura that contrasts with rival Mitt Romney's vast wealth.

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