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Santorum Trifecta of Victories Means GOP Presidential Nomination as Uncertain as ever

by | Feb 9, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

A victorious Rick Santorum

For months there has been rival theories–speculation that the increasingly contentious battle to be the Republican party’s presidential nominee would be essentially over by [fill in the blank] or extend out possibly for months. After former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum ran the table in three states yesterday– one in the Mountain West and two in the Midwest– there is more evidence than ever that a competitive contest could extend at least through March 6, the day of a mini-“Super Tuesday” cluster of eleven states.

Only Colorado’s caucus was close. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was heavily favored to win. He had been ahead in polls, his campaign had been organizing there for months, and he won there in 2008 with 60%.

Instead, Santorum carried 40%–5% more than Romney—with former Speaker Newt Gingrich finishing third with 13%, and Rep. Ron Paul fourth with 12%.

In 2008 in my home state of Minnesota, Romney prevailed in the caucuses. Yesterday he was a distant third behind Santorum (45%) and Rep. Ron Paul (27%).  Romney carried 17% and former Speaker Newt Gingrich was last with 11%.

Santorum’s most overwhelming victory came in the Missouri primary. Carrying  55%, he was 30 points ahead of Romney and 43 points ahead of Paul.  Gingrich did not qualify to be on the ballot.  

Apportioning delegates to the August GOP convention is mind-numbingly complicated. Yesterday was the first, critically important step, but Santorum’s trifecta was impossible to ignore.

As the Los Angeles Times pointed out in its story, as a consequence of last night, Santorum has won four of the eight nominating contests thus far (a later count revealed he had won the January 3 Iowa caucuses) while  Romney has won three and Gingrich one.

Next?  Arizona and Michigan on February 28.

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Categories: Politics