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Politics & Government

Santorum’s Near-Win “Redemption”

After being tossed out of the U.S. Senate by Pennsylvania's voters in 2006 and then suffering a false start at a presidential campaign in 2008, Rick Santorum's near-win at the Iowa Republican Caucus plays like a story of redemption — at least for the next week, according to Muhlenberg College political science professor Christopher Borick.

Borick said that if you'd asked him about Santorum's caucus fate a week ago, he wouldn't have predicted a virtual tie with GOP presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney. After all, he said, Santorum didn't fare nearly so well in his last big political showdown in 2006.

"He was destroyed. You know, lost by almost 20 points. And to come back in the first presidential primary or a caucus this season… can only be considered a success and redemption," said Borick.

Borick credits the strong showing in large part to the number of conservative Christian voters in Iowa, but he said that does not hold true in New Hampshire. "It's more moderate. There's not as many evangelical Christians, which formed a basis for his 25 percent last night in Iowa. So it's a different electorate, and he simply hasn't spent the time and effort that he did in Iowa, so it's going to be hard for him to have the same success," said Borick.

Before the caucus, Santorum said that characterizing his campaign with the words "shoestring budget" is insulting to a shoestring. That may have worked in Iowa and it could work in New Hampshire, but Borick said that money is key to larger-state primaries that follow, like South Carolina and Florida.