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Morning Examiner: Santorum’s dark horse advantage

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

Yesterday, CNN released a poll of registered Republican voters in Iowa showing that while Newt Gingrich is in utter free-fall, dropping from 33% earlier earlier this month to just 14% today, Rick Santorum’s support is surging, rising from 5% in the last poll to 16% today. The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York explains why this bump in support may be just the thing Santorum needs to pull off a surprise showing in the Iowa caucuses:

For months, Iowa social conservatives have searched for a candidate behind whom they could unite in their drive to stop Mitt Romney. But they were never able to come together behind a single choice. … There was one candidate that nearly all of them wanted to support, and that was Rick Santorum. But they had a problem with Santorum, too. That problem wasn’t about knowledge, or experience, or personal history. No, the problem with Santorum was always electability. Many, many social conservatives said that they wanted to support Santorum but were troubled by his inability to rise about two or three percent support in the polls. If Santorum could just show that he could rise a bit higher, they said, then who knows how much support might come his way?

If Santorum can unite social conservative support, and win more votes from Rick Perry’s 11% and Michele Bachmann’s 9%, then he will be within striking distance of Mitt Romney’s 25%. But RedState‘s Erick Erickson says Iowa social conservatives would be making a huge mistake in settling on Santorum:

Let’s remember Rick Santorum could not even win re-election in his home state of Pennsylvania. Rick Santorum also supported Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in the U.S. Senate back in 2004. … He supported steel tariffs in Pennsylvania, which did him little good in his own re-election effort. He supported No Child Left Behind. He supported the prescription drug benefit. He supported the Bridge to Nowhere. … He voted against the Farm Bill in 2002, but he voted to extend milk subsidies to save the poor Pennsylvania farmer. … In the House, Santorum opposed NAFTA and offered legislation to impose steel tariffs. He wanted to tax imported honey and Chinese imports. … In other words, the Santorum I have observed for a decade is the Rick Santorum on the campaign trail now — a guy trying to have it both ways through too clever by half stunts like voting against the minimum wage while authoring a bill to raise the minimum wage so no one can pin him down on his record.

Unlike Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and Gingrich, Santorum never had his moment in the spotlight. That may be his greatest advantage heading into the caucuses. Iowa conservatives have no idea how liberal his actual legislative record is.

Around the Bigs
Associated Press, Economists rate Obama’s policies as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’: An Associated Press poll of 36 economists found that half rated Obama’s economic policies as ‘fair’ and another 13 rated them ‘poor’. Asked which of the Republican presidential candidates would do the best job managing the economy, two thirds of the economists named Romney.

The Wall Street Journal, Dithering at the Top Turned EU Crisis to Global Threat: . A Wall Street Journal investigation of more than two dozen interviews with euro-zone policy makers shows that indecision allowed a crisis in a few small countries to threaten the global economy.

The Los Angeles Times, Latinos unhappy with President Obama’s deportation policy: A new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center finds that while Latinos disapprove of Obama’s deportation policies by a 2-to-1 margin, an even greater margin prefers Obama to Mitt Romney.

Gallup, Obama, Democrats Have Edge on Payroll Tax, Unemployment: Thanks to their failure to support tax cuts, Republicans have lost their edge on the issue to Obama and the Democrats. A Gallup poll taken Dec. 27th shows that 41% of Americans have more confidence in Obama on the issue, while only 34% have more confidence in Republicans.

The Washington Examiner, Cops shifted from neighborhoods to patrol Occupy DC: The union representing District police said Wednesday that officers are being pulled from neighborhood patrols and reassigned to monitor the Occupy DC protests and that violent crime has increased as much as 17% since the Occupiers arrived three months ago.

The Washington Examiner, Pentagon vows to keep Strait of Hormuz open: George Little, spokesman for Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, warned Wednesday that any action by Iran to seal off the Persian Gulf’s oil access through the Strait of Hormuz would be stopped by the U.S. Navy.

Campaign 2012
Virginia: Rick Perry’s campaign is moving forward with a suit against Virginia in federal court, claiming that the state’s ballot access rules violate the 14th Amendment. Newt Gingrich has changed the explanation for his failure to get on the ballot from Pearl Harbor-like disaster to fraud. Gingrich now says an outside vendor submitted 1,500 fake signatures that, when disqualified, put him under the total needed.

Bachmann: Michele Bachmann’s campaign took a tough blow Wednesday night when the campaign’s Iowa chairman, State Sen. Kent Sorenson, walked onto the stage of a Ron Paul rally and announced he was switching his support to Paul, “Ron Paul has established himself as the clear choice.”

Paul: The Weekly Standard reports that Ron Paul told a town hall in Des Moines he sympathized with the Occupy Wall Street movement. “In many ways, I identify with both groups,” Paul said of Occupy and the Tea Party.

Gingrich: The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney reports that, while Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign is collapsing, his empire of media and public policy ventures is thriving.

General Election: Republican candidates have spent far less on this year’s primary than they did in the 2008 cycle, but third party groups have spent far more money attacking Obama.

Obama: Obama’s general election campaign has already opened eight offices, made 350,000 phone calls, and held 1,280 events to recruit and train volunteers in Iowa. Mitt Romney has been far less active in the state.

Righty Playbook
Power Line‘s John Hinderaker notes that the Obama Christmas Boomlet appears to be over. His Gallup approval rating has fallen from 47/45 approve to 48/44 disapprove.

At National Review, John Fund says Republican candidates must start resisting Euro-bailouts.

The Heritage Foundation‘s Lachlan Markay reviews why the Supreme Court rejected all of the left’s arguments against voter ID.

Lefty Playbook
Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum worries that Obama’s love for drone killings may lead to a slippery slope.

Slate‘s Matt Yglesias says the biggest problem facing America today in inadequate demand.

Talking Points Memo reports on New York’s debate over fracking.

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