Huffpost Entertainment

Rick Santorum's Secret Weapon The Duggars

Posted: Updated:

As the results of the Iowa Caucuses continue to roll in, Rick Santorum clings to a narrow -- and surprising -- lead. Once considered a fringe candidate, the Christian conservative former Pennsylvania senator has come from nowhere to take the lead in the first race of the Republican race. Even if he doesn't come in first place, it's still a major win for Santorum.

His 25% of the vote is a marked improvement from his poll numbers from just a day ago, when The Huffington Post had him at an average of 17.2%. So, what's changed in the past few days? Sure, the ground game helped. But perhaps even more important was the support of Jim Bob Duggar, his wife and his 19 children.

The stars of "19 Kids and Counting" on TLC toured with Santorum over the weekend, including a stop at a well-attended rally at a pizza joint on Monday. Jim Bob made appealed to voters, saying, "I'm asking families, Christians all over American to get behind Rick Santorum for the next president of the United States."

While he admitted that Santorum isn't Jesus Christ, his preferred candidate, Duggar's endorsement of Santorum as a man who "just votes from his heart and votes on his convictions, votes on things based on the Constitution of the United States and the Bible," seems to have done the trick. And for those dubious about his impact, there's precedent here.

The white hot Santorum surge is a repeat of the 2008 Republican primary, when the Duggar-approved Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee surprised the nation and took home the Caucus prize. Now, Jim Bob is looking to take it one step further, learning his lesson from the limited Huckabee victory and hoping to repeat it nationally.

"The mistake we made was the whole political candidate field was splintered last time," Duggar said of 2008, according to the Washington Post. "A lot of Christians throughout the United States were supporting Fred Thompson and several other people. We don't need to make the same mistake."

Yep, make no mistake: the more kids your endorsers have, the more caucus supporters you're going to earn. As long as those endorsers are religious reality TV stars, of course.