YOU SAY "HOLIER THAN THOU" LIKE IT'S A BAD THING!
A new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll shows Rick Santorum at a whopping 45% among Republicans in the Lone Star State, with Newt Gingrich far back at 18% and Mitt Romney even further back at 16%. Andrew Sullivan writes:
Can Santorum Win In The South?
For me, it was always the question. The evangelical South controls the GOP and most of the Christianist leaders backed Santorum against Gingrich at their summit earlier this year. But Newt's Southern roots and mastery of right-wing populist rhetoric always struck me as potentially more sellable in, say, Texas, than the up-tight Bill Donohue-style theocon Catholic from Pennsylvania.
But things have changed, haven't they? ...
I'm not sure what would have happened if Mitt Romney weren't in the race as the guy most observers believed couldn't be beaten, but at this point base voters are so disgusted by Romney's transcendent phoniness that they're seeking out his polar opposite: the guy in the race who's most sincerely far-right, lack of charisma be damned.
Gingrich had them going for a while, and he even got a do-over for his apostasy on the Paul Ryan budget, but he's not getting a do-over on attacking Romney's business career from the left, on his ties to Freddie Mac, and on his marital history. The phonier Romney gets, the purer the base wants the anti-Romney to be.
If Santorum had dropped out early and Michele Bachmann had stayed in the race, I think Bachmann would be the front-runner right now, even if she'd said all kinds of loopy things. It's all about sincerity, as part of a backlash to the most insincere guy who ever lived.