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The Case for Santorum

He might be more electable than he's given credit for.

1:56 PM, Feb 6, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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At National Review, Quin Hillyer argues that conservatives should be taking a hard look at Rick Santorum because he's "a true conservative and he can win." In particular, Hillyer argues Santorum's personal appeal is underrated and could prove decisive when it comes to electability:

When the “internals” are analyzed, Santorum rates particularly high on personal character, on sincerity, and on steadfastness of principle. Those are bedrock traits that, over a long campaign, help secure a voter’s comfort level with a candidate. A comparison with Reagan is in order here. While Santorum certainly hasn’t shown Reagan’s preternatural communication skills or sheer — almost magical — personal likeability, what matters in a race against a weak incumbent in a weak economy is that voters give themselves the psychological go-ahead for changing something as important as the president. Fear of the unknown runs strong. Even against an absurdly weak Jimmy Carter in 1980, it was only in the last week that voters swung sharply Reagan’s way: They needed reassurance, from watching his demeanor in debates, that he wasn’t the nuclear cowboy the Left tried to portray. Santorum’s palpable decency and sincerity can offer a similar reassurance against Obama. Someone as volatile as Gingrich cannot.

Santorum’s track record also indicates that he wears well over time. Witness his success in the Iowa caucuses, where voters had many months to size up the candidates. Witness his four upset (or at best even-money) victories in Pennsylvania. He doesn’t offer flash and sizzle, but in a long campaign, such as in the media-intensive slog that is a general-election presidential race, his personal and political virtues have time to become more apparent.

Hillyer further makes the observation that at least one poll has Santorum leading in Missouri's "beauty contest" primary tomorrow—if he wins that, he could get some momentum going. Also making the case for Santorum are the results of the latest Rasmussen poll, as Jeffrey Anderson notes

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