The Des Moines Register's candidate tracker showed Romney spending only 18 days in Iowa in 34 events compared to 104 days by Santorum in 308 events. This compares with 81 days for Bachmann, 63 for Gingrich, 46 for Paul, and 2 days for former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.
A momentum moment
The momentum of Santorum's rise is more obvious if the Des Moines Register poll's results are looked at by the individual days of the survey. "If the final two days of the Iowa Poll are considered separately," Bloomberg reported, "Santorum rises to second place, with 21 percent, pushing Paul to third, at 18 percent. Romney remains steady at 24 percent."
The distance between Santorum and Romney narrows even more if you look at the last day of the polling where Santorum was just one point away from Romney.
The smaller slices from the survey do have a larger margin of error — 5.6 percentage points for the two-day slice, for example — making even apparent trends unpredictable.
GOP strategist Mike Murphy told the Des Moines Register the volatility in the poll numbers means things could change at any moment: "Polling is a nightmare right now."
J. Ann Selzer, president of West Des Moines- based Selzer & Co., which conducted the Register's poll, sees a shift toward Santorum. "If he continues on this trajectory, he can win," Selzer told Bloomberg. "He benefits from Romney holding steady … and from a rather dramatic slide by Ron Paul."
Conviction and reality
Nonetheless, Santorum faces an uphill battle according to the New York Times: "His campaign lacks the resources to fight a drawn-out battle for the nomination. He is already under assault from rivals like Gov. Rick Perry of Texas. And victory in Iowa would be hollow if he were to suddenly flame out in New Hampshire and South Carolina."
But will the "trajectory" match reality?
As Bloomberg points out, the last Iowa Poll before the caucuses has done pretty well in predicting the winner. In 2008. For example, the poll showed former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee at 32 percent to Romney's 26 percent. Huckabee received 34 percent of the vote and Romney had 25 percent.
Perhaps that result is reason enough, even without its subtle italicized religious undertones, for Santorum's website to feature a quote from Huckabee: "I adore Rick Santorum's conviction."
And with the Des Moines Register's poll finding that 41 percent of likely caucus goers saying they could still change their minds, political conviction seems to be slippery in Iowa.
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