Santorum pulled a fast one on Tuesday night, clinching both the Colorado and Minnesota caucuses, and placing first in the Missouri primary. It's Santorum's strongest showing so far in the race, and his first major victory since the Iowa caucus, which no one knew he had one until two days later.
Santorum's sudden, surprise victory in these races is likely the result of a number of factors. First, Gingrich and Romney have been pounding each other and leaving Santorum mostly alone (that will now change, I'm sure). Then, there is the fact that all of these states tend to be more socially conservative, which is Santorum's claim to fame (or imfamy). And finally, it has to do with timing and style. While Gingrich and Romney have both said things that alienate their base or anger moderates, Santorum's crazy views seem to have filled a niche in the American social structure.
Santorum is probably the most conservative of all those who are running in the primaries. He holds his moral convictions above all else, and people are responding to his passion and commitment. Unfortunately, his views are so incredibly conservative that the majority of Americans see him as being simply crazy. While Santorum seems to have sewn up the crazy vote pretty nicely, there are more people who don't agree with him than people who do. So where does that leave Rick?
Personally, I don't think Santorum is going to get the nomination, mostly because the Republican party establishment has to know that he will never be elected. The only way a GOP candidate is going to make is if they can take some votes away from Obama's 2008 bloc. Santorum can't do that. It would be political suicide to put Rick against Obama.
So where does this sudden swing leave the Republicans? Well, in a bit of a jam. At least until the end of the primaries. The thing is, it doesn't really matter to the conservative base who is representing them in the primary. All that matters is getting that person in the White House. So, if Rick ends up with the nomination, the the RNC will rally around him. The same thing will happen if Gingrich or Romney gets nominated. But the person they put in that position must have the ability to convince the moderates and undecided voters to their cause. I don't think Santorum is up to the task.