Is Rick Santorum Now the 2016 GOP Frontrunner?

Though Santorum is giving up on the 2012 nomination, can he win it in 2016?

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum announced he would be suspending his campaign for president of the United States. He is dropping out before the primary in his home state of Pennsylvania, but after failing to defeat former Gov. Mitt Romney in the Wisconsin primary, most analysts did not see him lasting much longer anyway. Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also remain in the race. However, as Paul has yet to win a single primary, and Gingrich has stated that the influence of ideas is the goal of his campaign, Mitt Romney's path to the nomination is all but obstacle-free. Romney, who has had a tough time winning over conservatives, can now claim the crown of "inevitable" nominee.

[ See a collection of political cartoons on Rick Santorum.]

As the Republicans shift their focus from the primary to the general election, many are looking past November, on to 2016. Rick Santorum's choice to drop out now, rather than drag on the bloody and costly primary any longer, is not only good for the party, some argue, but good for himself as well.  Explains Peter Fenn, "If  Romney crashes and burns this November, Republicans will be saying, 'You bet we should have nominated a solid conservative!'" The GOP also has a history of nominating the runner-up to the previous nominee--Reagan lost to Ford in 1976, George H.W. Bush to Reagan in 1980, Bob Dole to Bush in 1988, John McCain to George W. Bush in 2000, and Romney to McCain in 2008. However, Scott Galupo isn't so sure: "He should be under no illusion that, should Romney lose, 2016 will be his turn. Despite the astonishing run he had this year, he's going straight to the back of the line."

What do you think? Is Rick Santorum now the 2016 GOP frontrunner? Take the poll and comment below.

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

Previously: Is Barack Obama a 'Fear and Division' President?