When it comes to political contests, a sizable number of voters are more concerned about voting for the winner of an election than they are about voting for the candidate who most matches their political beliefs.

That more than anything else explains Rick Santorum’s recent surge in South Carolina GOP primary polls from 1 percent in November to 24 percent today.

In the aftermath of the Iowa Caucuses, voters are now operating under the assumption that the GOP race will come down to two men: Santorum and Mitt Romney. And so, they are voting accordingly, giving both candidates a boost. (Pro-Romney voters jumped from 24 percent of those polled to 27 percent.)

Now before we go any further, yes, I’m aware that the anti-gay, pro-family Santorum fills the needs of South Carolina’s ever-kneeling evangelicals. He gives them what they want, each and every time he talks about man-on-dog sex or compares abortion with slavery. Comments like those make redmeat Republicans get all frothy at the mouth. And in return, Santorum has an army of GOPers lined up behind his back. But I really don’t think that’s behind the sudden Santorum surge here in South Carolina. I really don’t know.

SCGOPers want to pick the eventual GOP nominee above all else. It’s what we’ve been told that we do, time and time again. After all, the winner of the Palmetto State presidential primary has been the GOP presidential candie in every contest since 1980.

Of course, the New Hampshire primary is coming up this Tuesday, and all indications are that Romney is going to handily win that contest and Santorum is going to fare quite poorly. So come Wednesday morning, you can rest assured that even more members of the SCGOP will claim that Romney’s their man while Santorum’s presidential asspirations are flushed down the toilet.