Posted Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012, at 8:40 AM
There is no national presidential primary, and if this poll meant anything, Hillary Clinton would be president and lazy op-ed writers would be filing copy about a possible primary challenge.
All right! With that out of the way, Gallup has Mitt Romney finally, finally, finally breaking past his 25 percent ceiling, riding the PR from his New Hampshire win -- the most easily anticipated first-two-states victory since Bush won Iowa in 2000 -- to 37 percent support from all Republicans.
For the first time, support for Romney outpaces support for the three candidates running clearly to his right: Santorum, Gingrich, Perry. That conservative vote adds up to 33 percent. Looking at that data, you have to conclude that Santorum is being screwed over. As Byron York reports, it's entirely possible, maybe even likely that the guy who did 372 events in Iowa narrowly defeated Romney in the non-binding caucus vote. "Why does that matter, if the caucus wasn't binding?" Because, for reasons they won't explain to me personally, millions of lower-informaton voters take people more seriously when they win early contests that award few delegates.
*The asterisk is for Ron Paul, who (as Santorum has very sensibly said) is the winner of the libertarian contest inside the party, and not really going for the same votes as the others.