THE BLOG
02/21/2012 12:19 pm ET Updated Apr 20, 2012

Who's Left, Santorum?

The GOP is running out of presidential candidates.

Santorum won all three caucuses in early February defeating Mitt Romney by double digits in two of the states. With wins in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado, Santorum had gained momentum going into Maine.

Maine returned momentum to Romney after he beat Ron Paul in the state caucuses, albeit, by a mere 194 votes. But that victory has become controversial with the exclusion of three counties from the final vote totals ‚ counties that may favor Ron Paul.

Next, are Arizona and Michigan, two important primaries preceding the significance Super Tuesday will have on the race to the nomination.

Who will have the momentum after Michigan and Arizona?

Though Santorum's early February surprise waned in Maine something interesting is happening in Michigan. Santorum leads in the polls in Romney's home state. But in Arizona, Romney has an eight point lead which offsets his apparent troubles in Michigan.

Is Santorum's recent popularity 'real' -- unlike the other leaders -- or just another anybody-but-Romney flash in the pan?

The Republican process to find a viable candidate to challenge Obama's run for a second term has been, at times, interesting, zany, vitriolic, colorful, painful, and laughable, amongst other superlatives.

Is it realistic to believe that Santorum could actually derail Romney's presumptive claim on the nomination? Or is he just the last in a long line of leaders -- hopeful choices of a Republican Party in disarray? I would venture the latter.

More than 25 names have been floated by various factions of the party.

The lacklustre field, the series of possible candidates ranging back to Palin, Sanford, and Ensign in July of 2009, creates a serious dilemma for the Republicans. The list of hopefuls -- nearly all unqualified -- included Governors and ex-Governor's Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry and many others, further illuminates the problems the GOP is having.

Santorum is the latest to surge ahead of Romney beginning with Michele Bachmann. Following her were Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Newt Gingrich. Romney, who seems to be stuck in an unimpressive range because of his inability to connect with conservative voters, can't find the traction needed to take him to the convention with enough delegates.

With each new leader came new battles, new attempts to control the discourse. With each new leader Romney has been forced to move further right abandoning, even denouncing, his moderate policies of the past.

Santorum's conservative message currently resonates with a right-wing base that is focused on issues of little import to the general population. The more popular he becomes the more radical and deranged his comments become. As Charles Blow suggests in his article, Santorum is becoming increasingly unhinged.

In order to attract the extreme base Santorum invokes a religious zealotry that stirs up culture wars exploiting a religious divide people like him have created. But, both candidates malign those that disagree with their views rendering them incapable of governing and unelectable.

Santorum's outrageous proclamations and positions are potentially more harmful than Romney's who is praying for Santorum's popularity to unravel hoping his rapidly fading electability will still carry him to the nomination.

Another issue that will effect the new front-runner's chances -- charitable giving.

As Aaron Blake discovered, in his Washington Post article, newly released tax returns show the Santorum's gave a paltry 1.8% of their adjusted gross income which brings into question his Christianity.

As a stronger light is cast on Santorum his deficiencies become glaringly apparent and the expectations of his nomination will diminish.

America will be watching the Arizona and Michigan primaries with extreme interest hoping for more clarity heading into Super Tuesday.

Till then Republicans are left with the obvious question: who's left after Santorum?