Santorum May Do Well On No Delegate Tuesday

If the polling is accurate, Rick Santorum may do well in the contests tonight in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado:

Rick Santorum could be headed for a big day in today’s contests in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. Missouri looks like a probable win for Santorum. He’s at 45% there to 32% for Mitt Romney and 19% for Paul. Minnesota provides an opportunity for a win as well. Currently he has a small advantage with 33% to 24% for Romney, 22% for Newt Gingrich, and 20% for Ron Paul. And Santorum should get a second place finish in Colorado, where Romney appears to be the likely winner. The standings there are Romney at 37%, Santorum at 27%, Gingrich at 21%, and Paul at 13%.

Santorum’s personal popularity is the main reason for his sudden reemergence as a relevant player in the GOP race.  In all 3 of these states his favorability is over 70%- 74/17 in Minnesota, 72/17 in Missouri, and 71/19 in Colorado. He’s far better liked than his main opponents- Romney’s favorability is 47-60% in those states and Gingrich’s is 47-48%. While Romney and Gingrich have hammered each other in recents weeks Santorum’s been largely left alone and he’s benefiting from that now.

There are three groups Santorum’s winning in all three of these states: Tea Partiers, Evangelicals, and those describing themselves as ‘very conservative.’ Those were groups that had previously been in Gingrich’s column, but it appears right leaning Republican voters are shifting toward Santorum as their primary alternative to Romney. If Santorum does pick up 2 wins and a 2nd place finish tomorrow that trend is likely to be accelerated.

There’s just one hitch here. There are absolutely no delegates at stake today. Much like Iowa, the Caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado don’t select a Presidential nominee, they select delegates to a state party convention that happens later in the year. Like Iowa, they also hold a totally non-binding Presidential straw poll which is the “result” that the media will be reporting tonight. The Missouri Primary, on the other hand, is a so-called “beauty contest” primary, meaning that it’s completely non-binding. Missouri’s delegates are selected using a process that begins with caucuses in March.

That doesn’t mean that a good performance by Santorum won’t have at least some meaning tonight, though. If he manages to win one or two states while out-performing Newt Gingrich in all three states, it will be a big boost to his gain just as the win in Iowa was, and another huge blow to Newt Gingrich. But as far as the race for delegates goes, tonight is totally meaningless.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    There are absolutely no delegates at stake today. Much like Iowa, the Caucuses in Minnesota and Colorado don’t select a Presidential nominee, they select delegates to a state party convention that happens later in the year. Like Iowa, they also hold a totally non-binding Presidential straw poll which is the “result” that the media will be reporting tonight.

    How is that different than the US Presidential election, where we are actually selecting electors to the Electoral College?

  2. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Santorum still is in the contest??

  3. James Joyner says:

    Caucuses are really, really stupid.

    OTOH, I’m not sure that delegates really matter at this stage. Otherwise, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul would be right when they argue that there are still 46 states to go and nothing has been decided. In reality, the outcome of each race leads to a shift in the media narrative and voter expectations.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:

    That’s so funny. Never stop.

  5. Pug says:

    The delegates up for grabs today don’t really matter that much. If Santorum wins two of these, the publicity will be enormous.

    Mitt will have to carpet bomb him.

  6. A voice from another precinct says:

    The poll on Yahoo’s front page is showing Romney at 3rd behind both Santorum and Paul, but ahead of Gingrich in both Minnesota and Colorado. Are we seeing the rise of yet another flavor on “Not Romney?”

  7. Tom says:

    Wow Rick Santorum won all 3 states. Mitt may have a challenger.