A Santorum surge?

    The last Pennsylvanian elected president was James Buchanan, but former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum appears to be making a run for the Republican nomination in 2012.

    In what passes for momentum at this stage of the game, Santorum was declared the winner of a South Carolina straw poll over the weekend.

    Read this Jonathan Martin piece in Politico and you’ll see it was actually a straw poll of 413 GOP activists at the Greenville County Republican convention.

    Whatever the stakes, Santorum won handily over second-place Newt Gingrich, 31 to 14 percent.

    The Hill reports that Santorum may have a “big announcement” tonight in an interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News – likely the revelation that he’s formed an exploratory committee for this presidential bid (UPDATE: he did make such a declaration to Greta.)

    By the way, if you find the fact that James Buchanan was the last Pennsylvanian in the White House interesting, you might enjoy the latest “Politically Uncorrected” column by Franklin and Marshall pollster Terry Madonna and his collaborator Michael Young.

    They wonder why a large swing state that figures prominently in national elections has so rarely produced credible presidential aspirants.

    “From the Civil War through the late New Deal, machine politics and patronage mostly occupied politicians in the state,” Madonna and Young write. “‘Making’ presidents was far more interesting than becoming president during those times, and few Pennsylvanians found themselves even mentioned as presidential contenders.”

    Read the rest here.

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