Santorum Tanks, Huckabee Triumphs Again

| Sat Sep. 19, 2009 8:49 PM EDT

Well, the results are in and it looks like former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has exactly zero hope of ever mounting a serious presidential campaign. Not that anyone really thought he did, except perhaps for him. Santorum's name was on the ballot for the straw poll at the Family Research Council's Values Voter Summit in DC this weekend, along with other GOP luminaries such as Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. In past years, the straw poll has been an early testing ground for the GOP's presidential aspirants. But if Santorum was hoping to woo activists from a distance (he didn't actually show up to campaign) with his anti-gay history, it didn't work. Santorum managed to garner a scant 2.5 percent of the vote, saved from coming in dead last only by Ron Paul. 

As in past years, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee cleaned up big time. None of the other candidates even came close to his 28 percent of the votes. Behind him, there was a four-way tie among Romney, Palin, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), a guy who looks very much like someone running for vice president (the Indiana curse, perhaps). The fact that Palin fared so poorly also doesn't bode well for her future as a candidate, as she nearly lost to virtual unknowns Pence and Pawlenty along with Huckabee. 2012 is still a long way away, but it's not hard to imagine Huckabee as an early frontrunner for the race. His youthful fondness for frying squirrels in a popcorn popper nothwithstanding, Huckabee polled within seven points of Obama in April this year in an early look at potential matchups for 2012. Having seen him light up a room this weekend before the values voters, I have to think he's a pretty serious candidate.

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