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early and often

Many Americans Will Google Santorum for the First Time This Week [Updated]

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum gestures to supporters as he enters his victory party Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012, in Johnston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) When Rick Santorum wins, America wins.

When the dust from the Iowa caucuses finally settled, Mitt Romney edged out Rick Santorum by a mere eight voters —  so close that, if the very fertile reality TV stars the Duggars had been allowed to caucus for Santorum instead of just endorsing him, it would have been a different outcome. But let's be honest: If Romney were granted the power to choose a candidate for anti-Romney conservatives to coalesce around, he'd probably pick Santorum, who has so far achieved zero traction in any state outside of Iowa, and is so broke that he "cannot easily afford a rental car, never mind pollsters or television advertising," as the AP put it. No doubt Santorum will see a boost in support and fund-raising after tonight, but he still doesn't represent an existential threat to Romney, who, as the Des Moines County Register pointed out on its front page, barely campaigned at all in the state. As an aside, we don't even want to think about what will happen when countless Americans Google "Santorum" for the first time this week. Okay, yes we do.

The man who, a few months ago, did represent an existential threat, Rick Perry, came in at a disappointing fifth place, with 10 percent of the vote, and used his Iowa concession speech to basically drop out of the race, telling supporters that he would head back to Texas to, ahem, "reassess" his campaign. His presidential campaign will go down as one of the worst, if not the worst, flops in American political history. Michele Bachmann, who came in sixth and has no money and no support (but who does have a pair of doggie sunglasses), would also surprise no one by dropping out in the very near future.

Those exits will be good news for Santorum. Along with the boost he can expect from his strong showing in Iowa, the former Pennsylvania senator will likely collect a disproportionate slice of erstwhile Perry and Bachmann supporters. According to a PPP poll in Iowa a few days ago, Santorum is the second choice of 48 percent of Bachmann voters (compared with just 12 percent for Romney), and the second choice of 27 percent of Perry voters (compared with 20 for Romney).

As the for the other candidates, Ron Paul made an impressive showing with 21 percent, and will continue to attract a not-insignificant segment of the GOP electorate until the very end of the race. Newt Gingrich, who came in fourth with 13 percent, will soldier on, because why not? The primary season's endless string of debates recommences this weekend, and maybe Gingrich can find traction there once again through the condescending sassing of moderators.

This post has been updated with new information.

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Photo: Charlie Riedel