This is a contrary view, but Rick Santorum wins the GOP nomination.
You can make an analogy that Rick Santorum, the Pittsburgh Penguin, scored a hat trick on Tuesday night with victories in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri.
Seeing pictures of both the Linux Penguin and the former junior senator from Pennsylvania (never got to the senior prom) has convinced me if they were not separated at birth -- there are genetic components in play.
But I think that giving him the name Pittsburgh Stealer may be a more proper description. (God, I hope the rest of the country does not blame the Philly area for this guy.)
He is about to steal the nomination from Mitt Romney. It really doesn't take a lot of rocket science to see this. It is about numbers and personalities.
First the numbers -- Take a look at the updated football analogy for this week.
This is squeezing Romney even further. At the start of the year he was sharing the Ideological turf with President Obama and Jon Huntsman from about the 40-yard line to the GOP 30-yard line. The problem for Romney is that most members of the GOP have been purged by the direction of the party. While the people who may have wanted to vote for him still exist, they have been made so unwelcome by the far right wing in the GOP they just left. Romney has that 25%-30% ceiling in neutral territories (not geographical neighbors like New Hampshire or religious neighbors like Nevada).
Starting from the GOP 5-yard line, Ron Paul owns the entire end zone. He is so far off to the right he looks like Tom Brady passing from the end zone. Sprinkled along the stands from the 5-yard line on back is about 20% of the GOP population if the wind is blowing properly.
That is 45% - 50% of the GOP populations accounted for.
Between the GOP 30-yard line and the GOP 5-yard line is 50-55% of the GOP voting population. Earlier in the year we had the rest of the seven dwarves playing in this area. Now there are two -- Gingrich and Santorum.
As people see more of Gingrich, the less they like him. That 50-55% will start moving quickly to Santorum.
That brings us to the personalities...
In a one-on-one with Romney, Santorum has already proved to be the master. It is the one-on-one with Gingrich that will decide this.
Gingrich and Santorum are both courting the conservative (read - establishment) Catholic vote and the evangelicals. Santorum has been a Catholic since day one and is very comfortable in his skin. He can talk the Catholic talk and walk the Catholic walk.
An argument can be made that standard Catholics (and evangelicals) may be looking askance at Gingrich. After a stack of marriages he joins the church. Personally, I think he joined for the votes and not the great tasting communion hosts served with wine spritzers at the end of Mass. (I am betting with my soul Jesus has a sense of humor.)
When someone converts from something to something else -- there is a fire in the belly of the person. We all know smokers who quit. We all know those who battle alcohol who count the days of their waged, winning battle like blessings. (Congrats to everyone who has won their day today.) Sometimes it gets pushed on the rest of us because they are wearing their happiness on their sleeve. It is always cool to tolerate those who are winning these battles as they may try to convert us a little bit.
Converting to Catholicism should be the same thing. Years of RCIA training culminating with a baptism, confession, communion and confirmation makes you a willing and active part of the church.
I am not seeing it in Newt (not that it may not be there). A couple of weeks ago he was campaigning on a Sunday in a Baptist church. My Philly orthodox Catholicism kicked in. Nothing against any other faith, but if you got time to go to somebody else's church, what parish did you put time into for your new Roman Catholic church. It is kinda like Newt joined, but why?
So when those in both the Catholic church and the evangelical movement look at Gingrich, what are they looking at? Could evangelicals be looking at someone who has rejected their belief in a personal relationship with Jesus to go with a totally different way of looking at things? Could Catholics be looking at, "hey -- we got a soul here, but how stable is he really?"
Both groups can look at Santorum as someone who, in comparison, is stable and sees things pretty much the same way they do. He has experience and has paid his dues. They can feel good about voting for Santorum. The only thing holding them back is the question:
"Can this Pittsburgh Stealer beat Obama?"
Follow Joe The Nerd Ferraro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joethenerd