The Pennsylvania Primary Election next Tuesday lost some of its allure when home state candidate Rick Santorum dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination last week.
Santorum's home state was supposed to represent his last best chance of being a viable challenger to Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. Instead, the former senator decided to suspend his campaign a few days after returning to the trail after attending to serious health issues for his daughter.
But while Santorum has ended his campaign, the relative success of his drive for the nomination given limited funding resources sends a powerful message.
That message is that the conservative element in this country is a much more powerful voting block than the partisan naysayers want to acknowledge.
Frankly, this Republican nomination race would have gotten very interesting had all the conservative interests been marshaled by Santorum or Newt Gingrich, who shares much of Santorum's ideological profile.
As it stands now, Republicans, if they have any designs on getting their nominee into the White House, need to put ideological differences behind them and unite behind Romney and a vice presidential choice who can see a practical economic strategy and deficit-shrinking plan for the nation's voters.
Conservatives have earned some political bargaining chips with the surges of Santorum and, to a lesser degree, Gingrich.
Their next move is to back the logical Republican nominee in Romney.
Cynics will suggest this is selling out.
We would suggest that when it comes time to make a commitment to a presidential candidate, conservatives are going to be much more comfortable with the policies and platform of Mitt Romney than President Obama.