Back-of-the-Pack Santorum Reminds Voters: There’s Still Weeks Until Iowa, Nothing Is Set in Stone

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum reminded his supporters in a tweet Tuesday morning that there’s still plenty of time until Iowa voters decide who the real frontrunners are in the race for the 2016 nomination.

In his tweet, the former Pennsylvania senator said that in the weeks and days heading into the 2012 Iowa caucuses, he only had 3 percent of support among likely Republican caucus-goers. In fact, in mid-December 2011, Newt Gingrich was leading in the state while Santorum’s support was, indeed, in the single digits, according to Real Clear Politics.

But in the last two weeks of December, especially following Christmas 2011, Santorum mounted a comeback as Gingrich quickly faded. In the end, Santorum narrowly edged out eventual nominee Mitt Romney for the win in Iowa.

Rick Santorum following his win in the 2012 Iowa caucuses, Jan. 2012. (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)
Rick Santorum following his win in the 2012 Iowa caucus. (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

While Santorum is unlikely to make another comeback in 2016, his tweet illustrates the point that although Iowa seems settled again this year, things could still shift in the five weeks before Iowa voters caucus on Feb. 1.

This year Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and billionaire businessman Donald Trump share a commanding lead in the Hawkeye state — 30 percent and 27.5 percent, respectively. One poll even has Cruz leading with as much as 40 percent of the support, much more than Gingrich’s 30-33 percent in late November 2011.

While a repeat of 2012 isn’t impossible for candidates behind Cruz and Trump, it appears unlikely. Whoever does win Iowa is likely to see a boost that lasts a few weeks. But traditionally, that boost does not translate into much success down the stretch.

The last two winners of the Iowa caucuses, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Santorum in 2012, did not see a lot of success past Iowa. In fact, it only took two months after Iowa for Huckabee to bow out in 2008.

Santorum, on the other hand, had a little more longevity. He stayed in the race for three months following his Iowa win, before admitting defeat and handing the 2012 nomination to Mitt Romney.

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