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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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February 7, 2012 - 10:14 pm
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In terms of delegates who formally select the Republican nominee at the convention this summer, the contests in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado mean nothing. None of the three states will select their delegates for weeks yet, during which time the race will probably have changed a time or two. Turnout was low in all three. It’s a certainty that had any of the three states awarded delegates as a direct result of these votes, the candidates would have treated them differently in terms of strategy and spending. But the results might mean a few things outside the formal delegate count.

In Missouri, Newt Gingrich was not on the ballot. Rick Santorum won there by 30 points over Mitt Romney, 55-25. Gingrich’s absence from the ballot might hint at what the primary could look like in some states if he is no longer in the race, at least in Midwestern states. That should concern the Romney camp, and force them to make adjustments.

In Minnesota, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s endorsement of Romney doesn’t seem to have helped at all. Santorum won there, and Romney came in a distant third. Paul came in second, and Gingrich finished fourth. Governor endorsements haven’t helped much in primary contests to date: Gov. Haley endorsed Romney in South Carolina and he lost to Gingrich. Pawlenty endorsed Romney in Minnesota, and he lost there too. Newt Gingrich may be counting on the endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry to help him win Texas and capture the majority of its 155 delegates. The evidence suggests he will need more than an endorsement to get what he needs, assuming he is still in the race when Texas goes to the polls. At this point, Texas doesn’t even have an approved election map.

In Colorado, Santorum’s win was narrower but overturns Romney’s 2008 win over John McCain. Santorum won, 40 percent to 35 percent, with Gingrich coming in third. But that 2008 win for Romney might tell us something about the relevance of this one: Romney won Colorado by a huge margin in 2008. But McCain went on to win the nomination. Colorado was the surprise of the day, and helps Santorum frame arguments that he has momentum and is the viable challenger to Mitt Romney.

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