Archives: Rick Santorum is Tim Tebow of 2012 GOP Race

Originally published in February 2012
Simon Nguyen

Rick Santorum’s rise in the Republican presidential race draws parallels to Tim Tebow’s magical NFL season. No political pundit could have predicted that a candidate with limited funds and name recognition would outlast heavyweights like Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich to become Mitt Romney’s most potent opponent.

According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Santorum is leading the nomination race nationally with 39 percent. This is a complete reversal from the start of the campaign, when the former Pennsylvania senator barely registered in polls.

If Santorum were to win the GOP nod, it would surely be the greatest political upset of all time. Not too long ago, he was considered an irrelevant candidate by pundits and insiders. But Santorum has managed to greatly exceed expectations, despite being massively outspent by the other candidates. According to Open Secrets, the former senator raised a measly $2.2 million in 2011 compared to Romney’s $56.5 million.

What Santorum has been able to do that other candidates could not is to take his message directly to the people. While Romney was busy collecting establishment endorsements and Gingrich was prepping his debate lines, Santorum had been personally appealing to voters. In Iowa, the Virginia native visited all of the state’s 99 counties, many of which are small rural areas. Santorum’s effort resulted in a big upset, where he edged heavily favored Romney by 34 votes.

Following a string of poor finishes, the former senator surprised political insiders once again by sweeping contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado. The fact that Romney carried two of these states four years ago by double-digit margins makes Santorum’s trifecta of victories even more stunning. Just like Tebow, Santorum has been making his detractors look incredibly inept. .

Unfortunately, not everything is rosy for Santorum. Romney is still vastly more superior in organization and fundraising. Santorum won’t be able to replicate his current strategy on Super Tuesday, when delegates for 10 states are at stake. This makes the upcoming Michigan primary a must-win contest for the former senator.

If Santorum loses Michigan, he will likely end up like Tebow’s Broncos which was routed by the Patriots in the playoffs. If he wins the contest, the Republican nomination is within his grasp.

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