December 29, 2011
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and conservative cultural warrior, has the momentum five days from the Iowa Republican caucuses, according to the latest poll by CNN and Time magazine.

He jumped to third place in the poll, to 16 percent support of likely caucus goers, up from 5 percent earlier this month in the same survey. Mitt Romney topped the poll with 25 percent support while Ron Paul has 22 percent. Newt Gingrich plummeted, going from 33 percent to 14 percent in the same time period.

Santorum has been languishing in the single digits, but has done the most intense retail campaigning in Iowa, building a network among social conservatives through about 350 stops over the past year or so, more than any other contender. He’s also received endorsements from key evangelical leaders recently.

Yet the Iowa picture is volatile. One major reason: Splits among the religious conservatives, the most powerful single bloc of voters in the GOP here. My story today about this.

Meanwhile, some good-old-fashioned Iowa backstabbing. State Sen. Kent Sorensen, who had been chairman of Michele Bachmann's lagging campaign, defected to Ron Paul Wednesday night. Bachmann says he was paid off, which he hotly denies.