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Can Rick Santorum Pull Off an Upset in New Hampshire, Too?

In his victory speech on Tuesday night, Rick Santorum highlighted his visits to the Granite State, a place he says that he has visited more often than any of the other candidates, excepting Jon Hunstman.

In the campaign for New Hampshire, Santorum has an ace in the hole: his national campaign adviser, Mike Biundo, a native New Hampshire resident and leader of the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition, who once delivered New Hampshire to Pat Buchanan over Senator Bob Dole.

Like Santorum, Buchanan ran strongly in the Iowa caucuses, where social and religious conservatives decide the winner. In 1996, Buchanan failed to win Iowa by three percentage points, but his silver medal there provided “a tremendous boost” heading into New Hampshire, which he won by over 3,000 votes. Sound familiar?

Robert Costa, writing over at National Review, quotes Biundo, who hopes lightning will strike twice:

“He’s not pundit-driven, he’s not consultant-driven, he’s real,” Biundo says of Santorum, and with his history of winning tough races in Pennsylvania’s “coal towns and steel towns,” the potential is palpable. Already, over 23 state legislators in New Hampshire have endorsed him and “my phone keeps lighting up,” Biundo says, with a slew of experienced political hands ready to assist.

“There are a lot of pockets of opportunity,” Biundo says. He cites Rockingham County, in the state’s southeast corner, Carroll County in the central slice of the state, and the city of Manchester as areas that “could be really good for us.” Same goes for Nashua and the “North Country, where the paper mills have closed.” Santorum “understands what is needed to win in those areas,” he says. “With everyone else just glib and glamour, and talking in sound bites, he is going to do well. Not everyone will agree with him, but they’ll believe him.”

These state senators include: Rep. Jerry Bergiven (R-Manchester), Rep. William Condra (R-Wilton), Rep. Charlie Moore (R-Jaffrey), Rep. Stephen Palmer (R-Milford), and Rep. Steven Smith (R-Charlestown). Bergiven formerly supported Ron Paul while Smith supported Herman Cain.

Santorum might take heart at New Hampshire’s demographics: At 35%, New Hampshire is the eighth most Catholic state in America. Twenty-two percent are evangelical.

On the other hand, Santorum’s anti-homosexual marriage positions might run afoul of the electorate. New Hampshire’s legislature became the first of two states to allow homosexuals to marry through non-judicial fiat. Santorum was booed by New Hampshire college students for his positions. U.S Senator (and Romney-backer) Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire recommended Santorum avoid discussing homosexuals.

Still, there is a vibrant religious liberty movement alive and well in New Hampshire that Santorum, who home schools his children, could court. Senator Bergevin, a Rick Santorum supporter, has been a leading voice against the mandatory teaching of evolution in schools.

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