On Tuesday, February 7th, the states of Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri held their nominating contests, and Senator Rick Santorum won all three. When you look at the seven contests that have been completed, you see a very interesting trend: the two conservatives have won four of seven. Rick Santorum won yesterday's three contests, Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, won the three more moderate states, Nevada, New Hampshire and Florida. The reality is that the Republican electorate is telling the Republican establishment no on another (relative) moderate, that we want a conservative.
It was an interesting set of results, so let's look at them state by state:
Colorado was the only contest that was binding that occured on Tuesday. Santorum won this one comfortably with 40% of the total vote. Mittens came in second with 35%, with Newt Gingrich in third with 13% and Ron Paul in his traditional caboose spot with 12%. It was a big boon for Senator Santorum, one that his campaign definitely needed. It was another caucus state, like Santorum's other win, Iowa. I am noticing that Santorum's strength may be, like Ron Paul's, in the caucus states, where grass roots campaigning has it's best results. Mittens picked up some delegates as well, while Newt's effort was, in a word, disappointing.
And the award for most unnecessarily complicated caucus process goes to....MINNESOTA! Seriously. The delegates elected then elect more delegates to a convention, who elect more delegates to a convention, who elect more delegates to a convention, and those delegates then cast lots to decide who, in fact, is the reason why the boat is caught in a massive storm.* Anyway, Senator Santorum won the vote for delegates to the first convention en route to the boat and the lot casting. It was a handy victory for the Senator, winning with 45% of the vote. Coming in second was Ron Paul, who picked up 27% of the vote (remember what I've said about Paul, his organization, and caucuses), with Mittens in third with 17% and Newt in a dissappointing fourth with 11%.
MissouriMissouri's primary mattered to this contest about as much as the opening day of Steve Guttenburg's next film...(that is to say nobody cares)...because the primary was non-binding as the national GOP disciplines the state party for moving up it's primary (by taking away the vote from the citizens...really GOP, nice move). However, there is one thing to take away from this vote: When only one conservative is in the contest, it really is no contest. Santorum picked up 55% of the vote, with Mittens getting only 25% and Paul in his traditional caboose position with 12%. That's right, Senator Santorum got 55% of the vote. The first contest with a majority winner. You consolidate down to one conservative and Mittens loses. That's the bottom line.
So with three more contests in the books, not much has been decided. For those who are hoping for a brokered convention might get their wish, unless we can consolidate the conservative vote. Except now we don't know who to consolidate behind. One thing I will say about Santorum's wins: It's all about effective communication of conservatism It boils down to one phrase from Santorum, "I don't stand here to be the conservative alternative to Romney, I stand here to be the conservative alternative to Obama." Bingo. We need a conservative alternative to Obama. Period.
*Get out your Bibles and read Jonah Chapter 1 so you can see how clever I am.