The Numbers in Yesterday’s Contests
Not only was the Missouri vote a "beauty contest," binding no delegates, but the turnout there was less than 6 percent of the voting-age population — a paltry number for a statewide primary. Moreover, Missouri’s results were a bit askew because Gingrich did not get on the ballot.
In Minnesota, a state of about the same population, the party caucuses drew just over 50,000 participants (about a fifth as many as in Missouri). That was a little over 1 percent of the voting-age population. Again, no commitment of delegates.
In Colorado, again a state of roughly 5 million people, about 65,000 turned out, but that was still well below 2 percent of the voting-age population.
This, my dear commenters to James Joyner’s post on this subject, is why one cannot draw substantial conclusions from yesterday’s contest.
As Elving notes (and correctly, in my view):
That’s not much of a plebiscite. And it could be a poor indicator of the sentiment of most Republicans and independents. What it measures instead is the ardor of that fraction of the GOP vote that is willing to turn out for a nighttime caucus where no delegates are actually being decided.
Yes, this gives Santorum a boost, but it does not demonstrate some massive Santorum surge nor does it mean that Romney is on the rocks.
And by the way, lest anyone think that I am arguing this position because I am in the tank for Romney and therefore am motivated to downplay non-Romney victories, let me note that this is not the case. I am simply calling it like I see it.