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Five Things We Learned From Santorum's Sweep Five Things We Learned From Santorum's Sweep Five Things We Learned From Santorum's Sweep Five Things We Learned Fr...

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Politics / campaign 2012

Five Things We Learned From Santorum's Sweep

photo of Jenna  Zwang
February 8, 2012

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1. Retail politics at work. Rick Santorum left Nevada days before the caucuses there, heading to the Midwest to speak with conservative-minded voters in Minnesota, Missouri, and Colorado. Out of all the GOP presidential candidates, he spent the most time canvassing these states, and it showed.

2. Conservatives are unsure of Mitt Romney. Santorum appears to some Republicans as the last true conservative remaining in the race. Even without exit polls, it seems reasonable to say that Santorum appealed to tea partiers, evangelicals, and very conservative voters, while Romney had issues appealing to the base.

 

3. With Newt Gingrich gone, Santorum snags his conservative support. The absence of Gingrich gave Santorum a chance to go nearly 1-on-1 with Romney, assuming the role as the top anti-Romney candidate. The anti-Romney vote has split between Gingrich and Santorum, with Gingrich taking the lead in South Carolina. With him gone, Santorum won voters with similar ideological profiles.

4. Santorum's lack of drama gave him an edge on Gingrich. In the Midwest, Santorum portrayed himself as a conservative minus the controversies that have dogged Gingrich's campaign, which appealed to evangelicals and social conservatives.

5. Republican voters want an Obama opposite. Santorum's contrasted himself with President Obama, telling supporters: "I don't stand here to claim to be the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney; I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama." He also said that Romney's biggest assets are his money and organization, advantages that will disappear in the general election, and Santorum encouraged voters to look for the candidate who contrasted the most with Obama. 

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