I’m confused. Why should the Ames straw poll winner, who’s played a key role at some of the debates and who’s always polled higher than Santorum, give up on her home state and throw her support to him instead of vice versa?

Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats called Michele Bachmann and urged her to drop out of the race and endorse Rick Santorum, a source with knowledge of the conversation told POLITICO Tuesday…

Bachmann declined, the source said, noting to Vander Plaats that she has consistently polled ahead of Santorum in the race and still does…

“I refuse to take a swing at somebody and diminish what they think is their God-ordained role. I refuse to do that,” [Chuck Hurley, the president of the Iowa Family Policy Center] said. “What I would say instead of quote, drop-out, unquote, is why can’t the top three or so pro-family candidates come together and figure out who has the talent for president, who has the talent for other roles in the federal government, whether it’s attorney general, secretary of state, vice president, Health and Human Services secretary, and those people could quickly, with the 10-10-10 situation [in the polls], could quickly vaunt into first place, win the Iowa caucus and win the nomination.”

Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan said Perry spoke with Vander Plaats on Friday, but dropping out and backing Santorum “absolutely did not come up.”

Their logic is understandable, I’m just not sure why Santorum gets to benefit from it. You could make a case that among him, Perry, and Bachmann, he’s actually the least electable of the three. (I don’t think that’s true — he’s more electable than Bachmann — but you could argue the point.) Granted, he has two terms in the Senate and home-field advantage in Pennsylvania, but he’s so famous for his stances on abortion and gays that I think he’s forever relegated to “niche” status in most voters’ minds. S.E. Cupp was moved to ask last week on Twitter for theories on why everyone else in the field save Huntsman had enjoyed a poll surge except Santorum; it’s a good question considering that he’s had no major gaffes at any of the debates, has served up plenty of red meat on foreign policy, and yet has floundered between three and six percent since August. The only explanation I have is that he inhabits that niche that matters a lot to social cons and very little to the rest of the electorate that’s consumed with the economy and the national debt. If you’re looking for a Not Romney, why look to a guy who’d spend the general election fielding endless questions on whether being gay is genetic or a choice?

All of which raises another question. How come Vander Plaats didn’t ask Bachmann to drop out and endorse Perry instead? Like I say, it makes perfect sense for social conservatives to want to unite behind a champion; what doesn’t make sense is uniting behind Santorum instead of a guy with loads of executive experience and a dynamite jobs record to throw in Obama’s face. Perry’s also much likelier to parlay an Iowa upset into a sustained campaign against Romney than Santorum is, I think. He had that huge fundraising surge at the beginning when people were excited about him so we know there’s money out there for him, and he still has some grassroots support per the blogosphere endorsements for him this week. He’s even held his own prayer events. What more do you want?

Exit question: The founder of the American Family Association endorsed … Gingrich? Really?