The Gallup tracking poll for early February, 2/1 to 2/12
For this post and all posts and tweets after this I am going to call Rick Santorum Senator Rick. We no longer have to worry about confusion with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, so Senator Rick (or just Rick) is his official name here. Anyone who has Google knows why I am squeamish about his last name.
Newt Gingrich did great in South Carolina, but it's been downhill ever since, getting a truly pathetic 6% in the Maine caucuses and barely crossing the 10% threshold in Colorado and Minnesota. Last week Senator Rick was anointed the True NotRomney, the candidate from the right who can stand in contrast to Romney's pragmatism, which in his case smells an awful lot like wishy-washiness.
No one can call Senator Rick wishy-washy or pragmatic. He holds the hard line position on every hot button right wing issue I can think of. Most notably, he spent much of his Senate career railing against abortion and gays. He shows no sign of moderating his views EVER, so if he gets the nomination, this truly will be The Tea Party vs. Obama.
Right now, national polls show Rick trailing Obama by about the same numbers that R-Money is trailing Obama, which punches a big hole in Mitt's electability argument. The thing we haven't seen yet is how Senator Rick will survive the full-on Super PAC assault. I expect he will pass R-Money this week, but I have no idea what the situation will look like on February 28, the date for the next two big primaries in Arizona and Michigan. It's kind of silly predicting anything more than a few days ahead. The Republican field is still more changeable than the weather. But if there are some trends that look obvious now, it's the end for Gingrich and Paul's best days are behind him. Paul believes in his crusade more than Newt believes in his, so Paul could hang on to the bitter end.
I'm going to agree with Senator Rick and say it's a two-man race now. In most American political races, especially intra-party, it makes sense to give the nod to the guy with the most money. That would mean R-Money will be the nominee, but not before this race rips the party apart.