SANTORUM Delivers GOP Stunner in Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado – WSJ

By at February 8, 2012 | 12:35 am | Print

SANTORUM Delivers GOP Stunner in Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado – WSJ

By NEIL KING JR. And DANNY YADRON

DENVER—Rick Santorum jolted the Republican presidential race Tuesday with a three-state sweep of nominating contests in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota, puncturing Mitt Romney’s claim to be the unstoppable front-runner.

Mr. Santorum’s three victories—one in the Mountain West and two in the Midwest—give his campaign a much-needed burst of momentum while stirring doubt about Mr. Romney’s abilities to woo conservatives to his side in important electoral swing states such as Missouri and Colorado. So far, Mr. Romney has won in states where he has devoted significant campaign time and advertising dollars.

In two of the states, Colorado and Minnesota, Mr. Romney had won by large margins in 2008. He was hugely favored in Colorado in the days leading up to the Tuesday caucus. Two of his top aides have deep experience in the state, and his campaign has been busy organizing there for months.

Anticipating defeat in at least one and possibly two of Tuesday’s contests, the Romney campaign is already scrambling to downplay the significance of the statewide votes in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. Neil King has details on Lunch Break.

Of the eight nominating contests so far, Mr. Santorum has now won four, while Mr. Romney has won three and Newt Gingrich one—a tally that seemed unlikely on a few days ago. Until Tuesday, Mr. Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, had won only a single contest, a narrow victory in Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucuses.

In Missouri’s primary, Mr. Santorum won 55% of the vote, while Mr. Romney followed with 25%. Texas Rep. Ron Paul was trailing with 12%. Mr. Gingrich wasn’t on the Missouri ballot.

Mr. Santorum’s Missouri victory margin was substantial: He won 75,000 more votes than Mr. Romney and 29,000 more than Mr. Romney’s combined Iowa and Nevada totals.

While the Tuesday results didn’t directly award any of the delegates needed to claim the GOP nomination, they showed voters rejecting Mr. Romney even in states where he had performed well four years ago.

Mr. Romney had carried Minnesota’s caucuses in 2008 but placed third there on Tuesday. With 88% of the vote counted, Mr. Santorum had 45% of the vote, while Mr. Paul had 27%. Mr. Romney had 17% and Mr. Gingrich 11%.

With all Colorado precincts counted, Mr. Santorum had 40%, to 35% for Mr. Romney. Four years ago, Mr. Romney carried Colorado’s caucuses with 60% of the vote.

via Santorum Delivers GOP Stunner in Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado – WSJ.com.

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