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Post Partisan
Posted at 10:12 AM ET, 03/07/2012

Conservative leaders won't save Santorum

Nate Silver tweets:

By far the most interesting question about the GOP race (perhaps the only interesting one) is whether Gingrich will drop out.

It’s a good question, but thinking about it does get to what I find an even more interesting question: Why haven’t conservative leaders rallied to Rick Santorum?

The truth is that there was at least one, and perhaps two, windows in which a concentrated blast of resources into the Santorum campaign might have delivered the nomination to him. The first was the week of the Iowa caucuses, when Santorum started surging in that state and eventually won it; the second was after his surprise wins in Colorado and Minnesota a few weeks later. Conservative leaders surely had the ability to supply those resources, such as money, organization and additional positive publicity. And yet, in both cases, most of them sat back and said nothing. Santorum did receive some support, from evangelical leaders, although it seemed to me to be fairly half-hearted — but he got almost nothing from politicians and other conservative opinion leaders. Even the ones who were at the same time whining about not having a real conservative alternative to Mitt Romney.

Why? I don’t know, but I sure would be interested in finding out.

At any rate, at this point there’s certainly no reason to expect this to change. At the very least, we can say that quite a few conservative leaders prefer staying neutral, even if it means a Romney nomination. And that means that they may also be reluctant to help Santorum by pressuring Gingrich to drop out, something which the Santorum campaign is explicitly seeking.

Now Gingrich may quit anyway — he’s mostly embarrassing himself at this point, although it’s not clear whether he realizes that or whether it’s a real deterrent for him. But if Santorum thinks that leading members of the conservative movement are going to lift a finger for him, he may find himself very disappointed.

By  |  10:12 AM ET, 03/07/2012

 
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