February 7th Primary and Caucuses

Welcome to silly season, the time of year where the nomination process gets thrown about and political pundits scream with glee.

I am shocked. Completely. I don’t know how else to describe what happened yesterday. In an attempt, however, let’s go state by state:

Missouri

Santorum took a somewhat expected 55% of the vote to Romney’s 25%. I call it somewhat expected because of Missouri’s demographic AND because Gingrich was not on the ballot. Missouri is, at this point, nothing more than a beauty pageant, but the huge win by Santorum bodes well for his chances next month when the delegates are actually awarded. If nothing else, it will animate Santorum supporters to caucus in droves.

Another point to make here is that Romney didn’t appear to capture much, if any, of the Gingrich vote. With Gingrich not being on the ballot, those voters appear to have gone all in with Santorum.

It lends credibility to his argument that he is the conservative alternative.

Minnesota

Don’t let Romney’s camp fool you on this one. They wanted Minnesota and the lose here is devastating. Not only did Romney not win, but he didn’t even get second place. Santorum pulled in 45%, Paul 27%, and Romney 17%.

Romney’s numbers are good enough in an 8-man race, but we’re down to four, and those are strongly disappointing numbers for a presumed front runner, especially one coming off two huge wins in Florida and Nevada.

This race provides substantial ammunition for both Paul and Santorum. More than that however, Gingrich is slipping and continuing to fall.

Colorado

If Minnesota was devastating to Romney, Colorado was apocalyptic. This is a state that Romney won handily in 2008. As in he pulled in 60% of the vote then. To fall to 35% AND get beat by Santorum (40%) is a massive blow to Romney.

South Carolina supposedly reset the nomination race. No it didn’t. It delayed Romney’s march to the nomination. This resets the race.

Santorum now has four states to Romney’s three. Santorum now has all the momentum. Santorum is gaining in delegates (no delegates were awarded last night, but the results are good predictors of what will come). Santorum has essentially replaced Gingrich.

So what will come of all this? Well Santorum is finally going to get the bump he should have received post-Iowa. Along with that, however, he’s going to start seeing the heavy media burden of his new-found status. I don’t know how he handles that or what that will turn up.

I am predicting that this is not the nail in the coffin for Romney. He still has the inside track to the nomination. This does essentially kick Gingrich out. Santorum has damaged Romney, but he has killed Gingrich in the process, which is exactly what needed to happen. What happens because of that depends entirely on how his voters split for Romney or Santorum, but I’d suspect many will go to Santorum.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a race!

I’m going to have to take a lot closer look at Santorum. I admit I don’t like him and that I’ve been very critical of him. Much of that is based of his whining in the debates and the early assumption that his campaign was hopeless. He’s turning into a legitimate candidate however, and it is incumbent on me to figure out for myself what I really think.

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