Santorum's thought process probably goes something like this: "People who go to college tend to become less religious. People who are less religious are less likely to vote for me.
Actually I suspect his thoughts are more along the lines of: "This life is temporary and doesn't matter. I need to save as many souls as I can, and the best way for me to do that is to be in a position of power."
Its the same kind of thought process that people use when they justify cutting contraceptive aid to poor countries with overpopulation, famine, and rampant aids because the relief organizations won't teach 'abstinence only' methods. The idea that somehow it's ok to die an agonizing death because it means a chance to get to 'heaven' rather than preventing the birth in the first place.
Santorum resonates with people because, in my opinion he honestly believes the things he's saying. Despite the craziness of it, he lacks the calculated pandering cynicism that the others in his party have.
He wants us to set our sights lower. To a point, it's ok for kids to not go to college, most don't.
There are problems though. Firstly, he's a fucking misogynist. He apparently thinks the proper place for women is in the kitchen and having babies.
Ahem, sorry. I digress.
The problem is that from an economic standpoint, he represents poverty for the people who choose manual labor as a career.
I like to use my grandmother as an example: She was a waitress. She worked damm hard, long hours. But in doing so she was eventually able to save up enough money to buy a house on her own. Eventually she re-married and with her husband got a second home. That kind of future doesn't exist any longer. The middle class, does not exist any longer.
It's slowly dying out. The only reason we haven't really noticed it is because the living standard in the US is better, even for the poor the much of the world.
Gone is the nuclear family with one parent who stays at home, two cars in the driveway and a vacation out of state a couple times a year. Gone are the days when working harder, longer hours was a way to get a home or a car.
Mr. Santorum may pine for the time when those things were possible, but he has flatly ignored the reason that they're gone. That reason, is not religion, it's income disparity.