Desperate for the love of conservatives, Mitt Romney must be heartbroken to see all the flowers and chocolate-covered strawberries going to Rick Santorum.
In the last couple of days, Santorum has caught or overtaken Romney in key polls. In Michigan, the state where Romney grew up and where his dad was governor, Santorum is favored among primary voters by 39% to Romney's 24%. In the latest national poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press, Santorum edges Romney, 30% to 28%.
Santorum seems to be winning the hearts of evangelicals and tea party Republicans who have simply never been all that turned on by Romney. In fact, he may finally be emerging as the lone alternative for conservatives, now that Newt Gingrich is fading and all the other options have gone away. The conservative National Review has called for Newt to bow out to give Santorum a clean shot at the more moderate Romney.
For the first time, pundits are beginning to back away from what has been the almost universal conventional wisdom that, at the end of the day, Romney will be the Republican nominee. Suddenly, a different scenario seems plausible.