By WGBH News
Jan. 4, 2012
BOSTON — Though he hasn't struck sparks in the Granite State so far, Rick Santorum might just have a prayer in New Hampshire after his surge in Iowa.
True, he "has been polling in low single-digits all year," said political science professor Dante Scala. In a Jan. 2–3 Suffolk University/7News poll of New Hampshire likely GOP voters, Santorum finished behind Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman and "Undecided."
On the other hand, he's spent a lot of time on the ground and Michael Biundo, his national campaign manager is an old hand in the state — he worked on Pat Buchanan's New Hampshire–winning presidential campaign.
But looking beyond Santorum's own actions, his promise lies in what he represents.
"There is a segment of the electorate here in New Hampshire — perhaps we can call them very conservative voters — who are looking for an alternative to Mitt Romney and by process of elimination, you have nothing else, Santorum may become their man," Scala said. Even if they don't think he can win the Republican nomination, they may want "someone to prolong the contest and prolong the conversation."
It's up to Rommey, Scala said, "to put himself forward as the champion, so to speak, of center-right somewhat conservative Republican voters nationwide."
And he hasn't ruled out Ron Paul, the Iowa third-place finisher: As of today, Paul is the favorite to place second in the state.
WGBH ELECTION CENTRAL
NPR: SANTORUM IN N.H.
Sign-up for WGBH News updates, WGBH promotions, and previews of what's coming up on WGBH TV.