PPP polling shows Santorum with a huge surge in support since he won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and non-binding Missouri primary, to the point that he leads nationally with 38 percent, to 23% for Romney, 17% for Newt, and 13% for Ron Paul.

Although a surge of this magnitude is not reflected in numerous other polls conducted in recent days, it does seem intuitive that Santorum would gain support as he claims the mantle of leading not-Romney.

This may be a case of PPP being boldly wrong as it was in Florida (where it predicted only a single digit win for Romney), or being ahead of the curve.

Clearly Santorum has momentum.  I would argue that’s because people know very little about him in contrast to Newt and Romney, so he fits the bill of the winnable “true conservative” not-Romney.

But in fact, Santorum is not as conservative as people think, except for his social conservatism, and has a record of putting power in the hands of the federal goverment.  That is the “true conservatism” Santorum stands for, not the conservatism of the Tea Party movement which brought us to victory in 2010.

When Santorum lambasts “radical individualism” he demeans the smaller government movement embodied in the Tea Party movement — keeping government out of our lives is not radical, unless you are a big government conservative/liberal.

We’ll see if the surge is a surge or a mirage, as PPP notes the weakness of Santorum’s support:

Of course if there’s been one constant theme in this GOP race it’s that once you get to the top you tend to start heading back down. Only 48% of voters say they’re solidly committed to their current candidate choice, while 52% say they’re open to changing their minds. Santorum’s support isn’t that solid and when Romney uses his superior resources to pulverize him, we could see this lead evaporate just as quickly as it was built up. But for now there’s been a stunning reversal in the race and Santorum’s your new leader.

If Santorum does not turn mostly caucus wins into wins in big primary states where everyone is competing, I predict a rapid fall back to earth.

Question of the day and next couple of weeks:

What is Santorum’s great political achievement?

In the meantime, Newt says he’s not going anywhere (via Hot Air), nor should he in my view until after Super Tuesday: