Can Rick Santorum Keep His Momentum Going?

Rick Santorum's victories in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota jolt some life into his campaign.

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum turned a triple play in the GOP race for the White House Tuesday, winning contests in Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota. Though the victories did not secure Santorum any delegates (Colorado and Minnesota were preference caucuses, and Missouri a "non-binding primary") they did jolt some much-needed enthusiasm into his campaign. Since Santorum's narrow victory in Iowa, he had been lagging behind former Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The wins put Romney on the defensive, though his campaign downplaying the results. But in his victory speech, Santorum looked past Romney and towards the White House, saying "I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Barack Obama."

[ See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

This race has been marked by the quick rise and fall of nearly all the candidates who have aimed to snag the conservative base that refuses to coalesce behind Romney. Many of those "not-Romneys"—from Rep. Michele Bachmann to Texas Gov. Rick Perry to pizza mogul Herman Cain—have since dropped out, while those still in it, like Gingrich and Santorum have had multiple "surges," but none of them lasting. Nevertheless, on the U.S. News Ballot 2012 blog, Brian Green reports, "Missouri's meaningless primary actually makes a world of a difference for its winner, Rick Santorum," citing that Tuesday night was a clean sweep victory that proves Santorum is winning over the Midwest voters Romney has struggled to rally. On the Thomas Jefferson Street blog, Robert Schlesinger doubts the Santorum surge can last:

There are a number of factors weighing against him, starting with money and organization. It seems likely that Team Romney will turn its focus on Santorum the way it did on Gingrich after South Carolina... Does anyone think that Santorum will get another clear shot where he isn't heavily outspent and drilled with negative ads?

Though no one can be sure what's next in this roller coast race, Tuesday night made the 2012 primary, according to Ken Walsh, "a three-way contest with Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich demonstrating regional popularity but lacking strong national appeal." But national appeal is exactly what the GOP nominee, whoever he is, will need to defeat President Barack Obama.

What do you think? Can Rick Santorum keep his momentum going? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Was It Right for Karen Handel to Resign from Susan G. Komen?