‘Sant-mentum’: Santorum leads in Pennsylvania; how seriously should we take him?

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A new Tribune-Review/WPXI-TV poll in Pennsylvania finds Rick Santorum’s support has more than doubled in his home state from 14% six weeks ago to 30% putting him just ahead of Mitt Romney.

Santorum leads with 30%, followed by Romney at 29% and Newt Gingrich at 13%. The survey was taken before Santorum’s big wins earlier this week.

So how seriously should we take Santorum?

That’s what John Cassidy asks:

Is Santorum plausible enough, likable enough, and durable enough to become a serious Presidential contender? I have my doubts, and so do many members of the Republican establishment, Karl Rove included. In the next couple of weeks, the Romney campaign will doubtless coördinate an attack on Santorum’s record, which includes lucrative spells as a corporate lobbyist and consultant, aiming at doing to him what it did to Gingrich in Florida. The manner in which Santorum handles these attacks, and how he fares in Michigan, will determine his fate. Still, one thing is already clear. He’s no longer a fringe candidate.

Ross Douthat suspects that the race could drag on if Gingrich’s supporters abandon him:

Santorum is a stronger anti-Romney candidate than the combustible and compromised Gingrich, with wider geographic appeal (as he demonstrated last night) and fewer glaring liabilities. So whereas Romney was able to dispose of Gingrich pretty easily during the brief window where the race seemed to be down to a two-man race between them, if he gets into a two-man race with Santorum he’s probably facing a much longer and more grueling contest.

Kevin Drum isn’t buying it:

So Rick Santorum won three states last night. Does this mean we all have to pretend to take him seriously for the next three weeks? I’m feeling a little queasy over the possibility already.

Ed Kilgore bets that Santorum will look much less attractive by the time Super Tuesday rolls around:

Everything negative you can say or even imagine about Rick Santorum will have been thoroughly aired between now and March 6. The relatively free ride he’s had as Newt and Mitt have gone after each other like wolverines is coming to an abrupt end, and it will be interesting to see how well he responds. It would certainly help him if his main Super-PAC donor, billionaire Foster Friess, starts writing huge checks.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.