Bits and pieces of polling data have been oozing out for days, but PPP just released its latest nationwide poll in the Republican presidential nomination race, confirming that "Santorum surges into the lead":

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Riding a wave of momentum from his trio of victories on Tuesday Rick Santorum has opened up a wide lead in PPP's newest national poll. He's at 38% to 23% for Mitt Romney, 17% for Newt Gingrich, and 13% for Ron Paul.

Oh, and with Gingrich out of the race, PPP finds that Santorum would lead Romney by an impressive 50 percent to 28 percent margin.

This may be Santorum's first ride atop a national poll, but it isn't the first time Romney has seen his own frontrunner status challenged. And each time, Romney has fought back with a deluge of attack ads. But how exactly does Romney attack Santorum?

Point out that Santorum's Christianist anti-sex agenda is bat-shit crazy? That's what helped propel Santorum into the lead in the first place.

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Unlike the previous non-Romney frontrunners, Santorum isn't a philandering hypocrite (Gingrich, Cain) or a deer-caught-in-camera-lights idiot (Bachmann, Perry). He was a K Street shill, sure, but Santorum's personal profiteering was relatively minor by DC standards, and harder to portray as scandalous.

Unlike Gingrich and Romney, Santorum is authentic. He actually believes the horrible words he spews. And that's what the Republican base seems to crave: authenticity. Drop a hundred million dollars in his lap to do to Romney what Romney will now attempt to do to him, and Santorum wins the nomination.