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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Will There Be a ‘Bella Santorum’ Effect in Florida?



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With Bella Santorum on the mend, and her father Rick returning to the campaign trail (although not to Florida, but to Missouri and Minnesota), perhaps it is safe to wonder whether the drama of the Santorum family’s sudden scare will have any late impact on Tuesday’s results.

Santorum has been a distant third or fourth in the recent Florida polls, finishing with 11 to 16 percent. But I have yet to encounter anyone who thinks worse of a man who suspends his campaign and rushes to his home state to be with his hospitalized daughter. Quite a few folks across the spectrum are saluting Santorum for demonstrating that he’s a man who knows what matters most to him. First Santorum had an above-the-fray, winning performance in Thursday’s debate, and this weekend he demonstrates he’s a man who puts his family first. He needed a way to break through the back-and-forth between Romney and Gingrich in the final days, and this event, tragic and terrifying as it was, probably did that.

For now, the polling evidence of a late boost for the former Pennsylvania senator is scant, although the timing of the polls makes it difficult to measure. Looking at the polls conducted entirely or partially on Sunday and the preceding results from the same pollster, Insider Advantage has him increasing from 8 to 12, PPP (conducted Saturday and Sunday) has him dropping slightly from 15 to 14. Rasmussen (conducted Saturday) has him steady at 12, and Quinnipiac (conducted Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) has him slipping slightly from 12 to 11.

What will the exit polls tell us about late deciders in the Florida primary? Because of the popularity of early voting (591,000 votes cast already!), the percentage of the electorate that is “late deciders” is probably smaller than in other contests. But because of Florida’s massive size (4 million Florida Republicans, about 2 million primary votes expected), the total number of late deciders is still pretty significant.


Tags: Rick Santorum


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