The Other McCain

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Santorum Surge Returns: Wins Missouri, Minnesota; UPDATE: Wins Colorado UPDATE: NY Times ‘Unexpectedly!’

Posted on | February 8, 2012 | 59 Comments

They’re still counting votes in Colorado at this hour — 1 a.m. Eastern, 11 p.m. Mountain — and Rick Santorum is barely leading Mitt Romney with about half of the caucus vote counted there.

Santorum won both the Missouri primary and the Minnesota caucuses, and you have to wonder if Newt Gingrich’s angry rant Saturday after losing in Nevada hasn’t shifted the GOP battlefield.

UPDATE: Readers will excuse my long delay in blogging the results tonight, as I was working on my annual CPAC preview feature for The American Spectator. But as I was writing, I had the TV on Fox News, where the commentators kept repeating that (a) the Missouri primary is just a “beauty pageant”; and (b) the caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado are “non-binding.” In other words, they were trying to suggest that the vote didn’t matter.

The Iowa GOP caucuses were also “non-binding,” but Fox News commentators didn’t say a word about that on caucus night, did they?

UPDATE II: With the Associated Press reporting just 67% of precincts in Colorado, and Santorum leading Romney 39%-35%, the chairman of the Colorado GOP just called into Fox News to say that he has results from 99% of precincts, and Santorum has definitely won there.

UPDATE III: The results from Missouri:

Rick Santorum ………..138,957 — 55.2%
Mitt Romney ………….. 63,826 — 25.3%
Ron Paul ………………… 30,641 — 12.2%

Newt Gingrich didn’t make the Missouri ballot. It is true that no delegates were bound by Tuesday’s vote. However, unlike Karl Rove, I’d say Santorum beating Romney by 30 points might be kinda important.

UPDATE IV: The results from Minnesota:

Rick Santorum ……….20,932 — 44.9%
Ron Paul ………………..12,627 — 27.1%
Mitt Romney …………..7,890 –16.9%
Newt Gingrich ………. 4,993 — 10.7%

Once more, Karl Rove is correct to say that the caucus vote in Minnesota is “non-binding.” But when Santorum got 45% while Romney and Gingrich got 27% combined? Might be kinda important.

UPDATE V: The results from Colorado:

Rick Santorum ……….. 26,580 — 40.2%
Mitt Romney …………. 23,097 — 34.9%
Newt Gingrich …………. 8,457 — 12.8%
Ron Paul …………………. 7,782 — 11.8%

Yeah, Karl Rove, I know: “non-binding.” But Rick Santorum just scored a hat trick — 3-for-3 — in three crucial swing states, and got more votes in one night than Romney got in Iowa and New Hampshire combined.

Might be kinda important.

UPDATE VI: Let me put some numbers on that last point. In Iowa, Romney got less than 30,000 votes. In New Hampshire, Romney got less than 100,00 votes. Tonight in Missouri alone, Rick Santorum got more votes than Romney got in Iowa and New Hampshire combined, and in all, Santorum got nearly 180,000 votes Tuesday.

Might be kinda important.

UPDATE VII: O, ye of little zero faith! Now with the benefit of hindsight, let’s re-read Allahpundit’s preview of Tuesday’s vote:

No delegates at stake tonight, but this is probably Santorum’s last chance to breeze past Newt as the race’s designated Not Romney. . . . If he wins both easily, then he gets a bunch of positive media coverage this week and maybe a few more big-name conservative endorsements, which in turn could mean enough movement in the polls to put him on at least an equal footing with Gingrich. Once that happens, the pressure will shift to Newt to explain why he should stay in and divide the conservative vote on the strength of having won one state while Santorum should drop out after having won three.

Excuse me, Allah: This surprising hat-trick — you kinda low-rated Santorum in Colorado, didn’t ya, buddy? — actually makes it four states in which Santorum has beaten Romney.

And as to the bizarre self-perpetuating media meme that “no delegates” were at stake Tuesday: This was legally true in Missouri, but given Santorum’s 2-to-1 margin in the “beauty pageant” vote, does anyone really think someone other than Santorum will get the lion’s share of the delegates at next month’s Missouri caucuses?

As for the presidential preference votes at Tuesday’s precinct caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado, yes — those votes were “non-binding,” officially. But if a precinct caucus votes 45-27 for Santorum over Romney (i.e., the typical Minnesota precinct), do we suppose that this caucus will then send a slate of Romney delegates to the next phase of the state party nominating process who will vote for somebody else besides Santorum? Or should we, as I suggest we should, assume that the delegates chosen at the precinct level will eventually vote at the state level to send delegates to the national convention in roughly the same proportion as the preference expressed in the precinct votes?

Like I said, the Iowa caucus vote on Jan. 3 was also “non-binding” in the same sense as the Minnesota and Colorado precinct caucus votes, but almost nobody mentioned that at the time. However, it seems that somebody’s campaign – and I’m thinking it might be somebody whose name sounds like “Ritt Momney” — was very diligent in spreading the message about these “non-binding” votes that Rick Santorum won Tuesday.

UPDATE VIII: In politics, as in economics, the New York Times is always caught by surprise:

His candidacy all but dismissed just days ago, Rick Santorum won the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses and a nonbinding primary in Missouri on Tuesday, an unexpected trifecta that raised fresh questions about Mitt Romney’s ability to corral conservative support. . .
His performance added another twist to an unruly nominating contest that has seen Republican voters veering among candidates and refusing to coalesce behind anyone. It came after Mr. Romney scored back-to-back victories in Florida and Nevada that had led to predictions that he was finally on a straight march to the nomination.

By whom was Santorum’s candidacy “all but dismissed”? Why, by all the smart guys at the New York Times, that’s who!

Kind of interesting that Romney’s top surrogate in Minnesota was the state’s former governor, Tim Pawlenty, and yet Romney placed third in Minnesota, with 17 percent. Thanks, Tim!

Tuesday’s trifecta was not “unexpected” by a certain Colorado resident:

What did I tell ya? Santorum’s got game. . . . Nothing is inevitable in politics.

Attagirl, Michelle. And she makes an important point: This would be a good time to go give Rick Santorum some money: $20, $50, $100 — whatever you can afford, give it now. Super Tuesday’s coming soon, and the Romney attack machine is going to pour on millions of dollars in attack ads to try to destroy the Comeback Kid they thought they buried weeks ago.

UPDATE IX: Linked by Fire Andrea Mitchell — thanks! Guess Tuesday’s vote doesn’t bode well for “Sweet Meteor of Death,” eh?

One of my friends from Team Santorum pointed out on Twitter that a tropical storm just hit Vanuatu. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

UPDATE X: My libertarian friend in Missouri, Tom Knapp, seems to grasp the Fear and Loathing element in this campaign. And the truly bizarre thing is, I’ll be hanging out with Rick Santorum this weekend at CPAC. Because the going just got weird . . .

UPDATE XI: Evil Blogger Lady: “This reminds me of that moment of recognition by Michael Corleone in Godfather II that the rebels in Cuba could actually win…” Because no discussion of 21st-century politics is complete until somebody makes a Godfather reference.

It’s 3:30 a.m. Good-night, everybody.

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