Could Rick Santorum's Primary Showing Be Another Game Changer?

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Feb. 7 2012 5:28 PM

Could Rick Santorum's Primary Showing Be Another Game Changer?

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(Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum with supporters after appearing at the Colorado Election Energy Summit February 6, 2012 at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.)

Photo by STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Could Rick Santorum have a big day out West?

The former Pennsylvania senator has been given less time in debates and written out of the recent political narrative, as Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney battled for first and second place in Florida and Nevada. But fresh Public Policy Polling data for this week’s primary contests in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado shows he could be the talk of the nominating contest yet again.

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In the two Midwestern states, the socially conservative candidate leads Romney by notable margins, and in Colorado he could come in second. Why the sudden Santorum resurgence? He’s liked far more than his competitors by voters in those states, especially among Tea Party members, Evangelicals, and those describing themselves as “very conservative.”

Romney, the clear front-runner thus far, could suffer an embarrassing third place finish in Minnesota—which is part of why Monday was full of battling press releases from the Santorum and Romney camps.  If you listen closely, you can hear political reporters sighing with relief. The race for the GOP nomination might stay interesting after all.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.

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