With Mitt Romney’s recent victory in Nevada, and Newt Gingrich’s disappointing second place finish, it is time to consider other alternatives. ;
And Tuesda, with little fanfare or intention, Rick Santorum is poised to potentially make the kind of breakthrough that could changed the 2012 presidential race.
To be sure, at this point it is more theoretical than likely. ;
Santorum trails in the national Gallup tracking poll. The poll shows 35% for Romney, 24% for Gingrich, and 16% for Santorum, with Ron Paul bringing up the rear at 12%.
Still, with caucuses today in Colorado and Minnesota, the former Pennsylvania Senator is poised to make a break through.
Santorum leads 29-27 over Romney in Minnesota, with Gingrich and Paul well behind. Already, Governor Romney has canceled his final rallies in Minnesota so he can stay in the West to try and hold onto his lead in Colorado.
Santorum had great success over the weekend, getting on the front page of Colorado newspapers, and could well further close the 14 point gap that PPP poll found on Friday.
That being said, a victory Tuesday in both states for Santorum could change the dynamic in the Republican contest fundamentally. ;
Should Santorum win in both Colorado and Minnesota, the inevitable search for an alternative to Romney would immediately turn towards the official winner of the Iowa caucuses: former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who has trailed Gingrich and Romney in every race since then.
The Gingrich campaign is seeking to get to Super Tuesday on March 8, where Southern primaries predominate. ;
But if Santorum is able to win both Colorado and Minnesota and be competitive in Maine on Saturday, the dynamic of the race could change and the alterative of the anti-Romney constituency could swing back to where it was over a month ago following the Iowa caucuses.
Douglas E. Schoen is a political strategist and Fox News contributor. Schoen, who served as a pollster for President Bill Clinton, is author of several books including the forthcoming “Hopelessly Divided: The New Crisis in American Politics and What It Means for 2012 and Beyond” (Rowman and Littlefield). Follow him on Twitter @DouglasESchoen.