Rick Santorum was certainly the biggest surprise to come out of the GOP primary. The GOP Primary was one of boom and bust. Candidates would become popular and then fade quickly. Remember when Rick Perry was a front runner? Yet he was soon revealed to be a less-than-impressive candidate. Santorum had his surge but was able to keep the momentum going, unlike Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, and Herman Cain. He had a good run but the cards were stacked against him from the start.
There were many factors that stifled Santorum’s ability to win. For one, Santorum lost his Senate seat by a whopping margin of 17.4% to Bob Casey in the 2006 elections. A landslide loss in an important state like Pennsylvania is bound to make people question a candidate’s ability to win a national election. Second was the first caucus. Santorum showed his mettle in the Iowa caucus. Before the caucus, polls showed Santorum surging, but many suspected he was just another boom and bust candidate. It was a surprise to many when he beat Romney. However, it was erroneously stated that Romney won the caucus, which killed some of the momentum that Santorum could have had coming out of Iowa. Another factor was a weakness and a strength: social issues. Santorum was able to woe the religious right with his firm stance on abortion and gay marriage, yet he alienated more moderate voters. Making ridiculous comments about declaring a war on pornography made some moderates turn away. If he was pushing away moderates, how could he court independents in 2012? The saddest issue Santorum faced and continues to face, is his daughter’s fight with Trisomy 18, a rare genetic condition. During the Florida campaign she fell ill and Santorum stopped campaigning for a few days to go visit her in the hospital. He ended up coming in third place. Luckily she made a recovery. Still, this must have been taxing on him, adding to the already great deal of stress from the campaign. The largest problem he had was his lack of organization and his inability to raise great sums of money. Santorum only raised around $15 million. This is a large amount of money, yet it is only the sixth highest amount among the GOP candidates. Ron Paul was able to raise twice as much money, despite Santorum winning more than five times the delegates. The $15 million is also meek compared to Mitt Romney’s $75.6 million. Santorum himself acknowledged that his campaign simply did not have the money to continue.
Rick Santorum’s run was a memorable one. It showed how connecting to a party’s core constituents can get you far despite little money. Although the odds were always against him, Santorum has a chance to use this campaign as a springboard to other endeavors. Besides, now that Romney has the nomination seared up, the GOP will have a tough 2012 election. Santorum may be needed later to help Romney against Obama. Obama will be a difficult candidate to beat for the main reason Santorum lost: Remember Romney’s $75.6 million? Obama has $172 million.
Jack Barnett is a third-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at JB723722@wcupa.edu.