Next up for Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum: South Carolina, where they hope to finally beat Mitt Romney. They'll be joined by Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman—unless Huntsman changes his mind and decides to bow out.
Combined, those four candidates did fairly well in Iowa, where they won 70% of the vote to Mitt Romney's 25%. In New Hampshire, they couldn't even beat Romney, getting 36% to his 39%. South Carolina will probably be closer to Iowa, but as long as Mitt Romney's opposition remains divided among several candidates, he couldn't care less.
In Rick Santorum's view, however, it's still too early to say that Mitt Romney's divide-and-conquer strategy has been effective:
“The key for us is to eventually rise as the conservative alternative,” Santorum said in New Hampshire on Tuesday. “The idea that the first two or three primaries are going to decide this race is ridiculous. There’s a long way to go. There is a very strong sentiment in this country on the Republican side, among conservatives, that we want a conservative alternative. Eventually, one is going to rise.”
According to Nate Silver's projections, Newt Gingrich is in a better position than Rick Santorum to beat Mitt Romney in both South Carolina and Florida. If Santorum only cared about beating Mitt Romney, he'd pull out and endorse Gingrich. But that's clearly not his only goal, and he's got enough support in those states that he can convince himself that he has a shot of at overtaking Newt Gingrich and finishing second.
Of course, a second-place finish by Rick Santorum would be just fine by Mitt Romney, because it would guarantee that he finishes first, effectively locking down the nomination.