Going into the 2012 Minnesota caucus on Tuesday, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is looking to score his first win of the primary election season.
HuffPost's Mark Blumenthal reports:
On Monday night, PPP released final data on new automated, recorded-voice surveys showing former Sen. Santorum (R-Pa.) leading in Minnesota and Missouri and running second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Colorado.
PPP conducted surveys from Feb. 4 to Feb. 6 in the two caucus states, Colorado and Minnesota. In Colorado, a state where Romney carried 60 percent of the caucus vote four years ago, they give Romney a 10 percentage-point lead -- 37 percent to Santorum's 27 percent -- followed by Newt Gingrich at 21 percent and Ron Paul with 13 percent.
Check out the live blog below for the latest developments out of the North Star State.
Rick Santorum and his campaign had a very good night Tuesday. Or, if you prefer, Mitt Romney had a very bad night. Romney's loss of the Missouri "beauty contest" primary was no big deal in the larger scheme of things. Losing Minnesota, on the other hand, was worse. And losing Colorado was a disaster.
Like a lot of people, I figured that Romney would use results in Nevada, Colorado and Michigan to bridge the gap between the early primaries and Super Tuesday. It didn't happen.
So the Santorum camp is cheered by tonight's results. But it's very possible to overstate Santorum's gains. At the end of the night, he added no delegates to his tally: All of these contests were nonbinding. So all of Santorum's achievements tonight were of the more ephemeral variety. This is not to say they aren't significant. To my mind, here's what Santorum gets out of the night.
1. A rationale to carry on in the race
Back when South Carolina was wrapping up its primary, the Santorum campaign could bear the loss by saying, "Three contests, three winners." But with a third-place finish in Florida and a fourth-place finish in Nevada, Santorum was teetering close to the edge of the map, and Newt Gingrich was renewing his call for get him to quit the race. Tonight's results prove that Gingrich's demands were premature. In fact, now it's Gingrich that doesn't look like he has a sound rationale to continue. (Gingrich, of course, is well beyond "sound rationales" by now.)
2. A new "electability" argument
Santorum can take tonight's victories and couple them with recent poll fluctuations to make an argument that he is now the candidate that can beat Barack Obama in November. It's an admittedly thin case, but you can expect him to make it. Begin with the fact that Santorum's central argument is that he can cut a starker contrast with Obama than can Romney and Gingrich for a number of reasons -- the fact that both have supported all or parts of what became "Obamacare" being the pre-eminent one.
Next, you can expect Santorum to point to the most recent Rasmussen poll, which came back with a surprising result: The survey said that Santorum was the only GOP candidate that would prevail over Obama, by a 45-to-44 margin. Romney, the poll found, would lose 47 to 43.
Now, I'd call that Rasmussen result an outlier, but that won't stop Santorum from hyping it. And he'll likely make a big deal about the Washington Post/ABC poll that suggested Romney would lose a head-to-head matchup with Obama by a 51-to-45 margin.
Why shouldn't he? The Romney campaign has positively flipped out over that result, mounting a frenzied pushback that's honestly pretty outsized for a February head-to-head poll result.
Why would you freak out over that sort of poll result? I'm guessing that it's because it undermines your electability argument at the worst possible time.
You know, whatever "momentum" is. Chances are, we'll be able to measure momentum in the number of news stories about Santorum that come out between now and Sunday morning. There should be quite a lot -- and it will be nice to get credit for a win the day after, rather then three weeks after it would have mattered, as was the case with Santorum's Iowa win.
The political media were prepping a "Santorum surge" narrative even before the evening began -- and that was well before anyone realized that Romney was going to lose Colorado. The double-edged sword here, of course, is that the moment the media start taking you seriously is the moment that scrutiny of your record intensifies.
4. Romney gets put in a bind.
We'll get more stories about his inability to "close the deal." We'll hear about how he badly underperformed tonight, as compared with his 2008 results. And it will be interesting to see if Romney is forced to re-engage.
In the past three weeks, Mitt's been crated up, lashed to the roof of the car and driven from stump speech to stump speech. According to the Washington Post, it's been three weeks since he's taken a question from a voter. And he's been kept away from the media as well.
There's a good reason why that is: "the more they learn about Mitt Romney, the less they like him."
So those are some nice short-term advantages for Santorum. In the long run, however, it won't matter much unless the wins add to his war chest, earn him endorsements and allow his campaign to build out its ability to compete across the nation. Mostly, Santorum needs cash, because right now, cash rules everything around Mitt Romney.
And if Santorum's Colorado win has Team Romney reaching for the panic button, remember what happens when that gets pressed: It unleashes an unholy deluge of attack ads across the full spectrum of human consciousness.
By and large, Romney held his powder in the states where tonight's competitions were held. That's going to be cited as the reason Romney faltered tonight, and so that's going to change. (Santorum could also really benefit from Gingrich dropping out; he and Newt will probably go halfsies on the non-Paul Not Romney votes in Arizona. But Newt's staying in.)
-- Jason Linkins
Rick Santorum's statewide win in Minnesota was built upon wins at the local level. Patch has more coverage of Santorum's local wins throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul region. The Twin Cities wins include those in Shakopee, Rosemount, Inver Grove Heights and St. Louis Park.
|@ MattOrtega : With Newt wounded after Florida, conservatives coalesce around Santorum in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. It really is Anybody But Mitt.|
Republican presidential candidates fought for momentum in three contests on Tuesday, in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.
As with every competition, regardless of how they are formulated, there can be both winners and losers. HuffPost compiled a list of the biggest winners and losers from today's GOP races.
Click here to take a look and vote for the biggest in each category.
|@ thinkprogress : STATE COUNT: Santorum 4, Romney 3, Gingrich 1|
|@ RickSantorum : My morning media schedule: CNN - 6:30am CST; @FoxandFriends - 7am CST; @MorningJoe - 7:10am CST #Decision2012|
|@ cschweitz : To call tonight an embarrassment for @MittRomney is literally an understatement. @RickSantorum just swept the floor with Mitt as the broom.|
|@ thinkprogress : ROMNEY'S NIGHT: Lost 3 battleground states, finished 3rd in Minnesota, lost every county in Missouri #rickrolled|
Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum was projected the winner of the Colorado caucus by the state's GOP chair on CNN.
|@ mikeallen : Colorado GOP tells @FoxNews @BretBaier expect full results in next 10-20 minutes ... Baier says panel will stay on air until called|
|@ jonward11 : santorum has 13k votes in CO to romney's 12.4k, w 70% reporting, but El Paso County, where Romney got 7k votes in 08, has not yet reported|
|@ cschweitz : At this point, it's just embarrassing for @MittRomney. He's been running since the 2008 election. How has he not lost all his self esteem?|
|@ thinkprogress : With 100% of the vote in, Santorum beats Romney in every single county in Missouri. Wins state by 30 points. #rickrolled|
|@ michaelpfalcone : 4 years ago Romney won 45 of Minnesota's 87 counties, this year he's on track to lose all of them|
|@ thinkprogress : Tally has Santorum 900 votes. But Denver Post says Santorum is up 1700+ in El Paso, not yet included http://t.co/2Y7r2H0r|
|@ sppeoples : How bad was Romney's night? His press bus took out a traffic sign in the parking lot. Filling out police report now. #2012|
The AP/HuffPost reports:
Ron Paul is emphasizing his ability to collect GOP delegates as the presidential nominating contest continues.
Speaking from a campaign rally in Minnesota on Tuesday, Paul says he's pleased with his showing in recent caucus contests.
Paul settled into his stump speech, at one point giving off an excited "yeah" that BuzzFeed calls almost "a Howard Dean moment."
Click here to read more and watch a video of the "yeahhhhhh!"
|@ Philip_Elliott : Santorum aide to bartender: "Do you have champagne?" The answer? Nope. He instead takes wine up to the senator's suite. #2012|
|@ DWStweets : Republicans are reluctant to get behind Romney. It's clear that the more people get to know Romney, the less they like him.|
|@ Redistrict : Writing on the Red Rocks wall in CO...Santorum sweeps all 3 contests tonight.|
Apple Valley Patch's Allison Wickler reports from Minnesota:
In the state of Minnesota, as of 10:45 p.m. Tuesday, Santorum had beat the other three hopefuls with 44.79 percent of Minnesota Republican caucus votes, with 74 percent of locations reporting.
Ron Paul followed with 27.21 percent, Mitt Romney with 17.08 percent and Newt Gingrich with 10.61 percent.
|@ mpoindc : "A lot of the stuff is made up in the media," Huntsman says when asked about tension with Romney, without ever denying it.|
Hopkins Patch's James Warden's reports from an uncontested Democratic caucus in Minnesota.
Redistricting, voter ID and a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage were both big topics of conversation at the caucuses, said Eric Margolis, the Hopkins caucus organizer.
Margolis said caucus-goers didn’t focus too much on the national issues that generated so much discussion at the Republican caucuses just across Highway 7.
"Really, people are just excited about taking back our legislative houses," he said.
|@ 2chambers : 70K votes were cast in '08 CO GOP caucuses. 2nite, fewer than 8K votes have been counted so far -- too early to read into current vote tally|
|@ EmilyABC : Romney senior adviser on how campaign will handle Santorum going forward: "I think we’ll see differences in approach that’ll be explored"|
|@ 2chambers : Minnesota turnout, with 77 percent reporting, is at about 40,000. Four years ago, was at 62,000.|
|@ samsteinhp : CNN has a shot of the glitter thrown at Mitt Romney now resting, lonely, on the floor. -- the scene of the crime|
When Newt Gingrich gave his election night speech in Florida, he didn't acknowledge that he had lost. He also never congratulated Mitt Romney, who won that state.
Romney was more gracious in his defeat on Tuesday, congratulating Rick Santorum, who had already won Minnesota and Missouri. (The results in Colorado have not yet been announced.)
"I expect to become our nominee with your help. So I want to congratulate all of my fellow Republicans, particularly Sen. Santorum, and I look forward to the contest to come," he said.Much of Romney's speech was devoted to memories of his father, George Romney, who was head of American Motors Corp. and governor of Michigan. While Romney often invokes the lessons of his father on the trail, he used his story in a more personal way Tuesday to talk about his vision of America:
My father never graduated from college. He apprenticed, as a lath and plaster carpenter, and he's pretty good at it. He actually could take a handful of nails, stick them in his mouth and spit them out, pointy end forward. On his honeymoon, he put aluminum paint in the truck of the car and sold it along the way to pay for the gas and the hotels.
There were a lot reasons my father could have given up or set his sights lower. But my dad believed in America. And in the America that he believed in, a lath and plaster guy could work up to become head of a car company. And a guy who had sold aluminum paint out of his car, could end up being governor in one of the states where he sold that aluminum paint.
For my dad and for hundreds of thousands, millions of others like him -- like my mom as well -- this was the land of opportunity, where the circumstance of birth was no barrier to achieving one's dreams. In dad's America, small business, entrepreneurs -- these were encouraged and respected.
The spirit of enterprise, innovation and derring-do propelled our standard of living and our economy passed every other nation on earth. I refuse to believe that America is just another place on the map with a flag. We stand for freedom and hope and opportunity.
-- Amanda Terkel
HuffPost's Elise Foley reports:
Mitt Romney was glitter-bombed on Tuesday after a speech in Denver, Colorado, the second time in a week that someone has thrown glitter at the candidate.
Last week, the glitter-bomber was more successful: Romney joked then that he had glitter in his hair, but said it was confetti to celebrate his victory in the Florida primary.
Click here to read more.