After poor finishes in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida and a last place showing only a few days ago in Nevada, former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum stormed back into the presidential race with a big win in the Missouri primary and receiving strong support in the Minnesota and Colorado caucuses.
And though the Missouri contest is a so-called “beauty contest” as there are no delegates at stake, Santorum’s lopsided margin over ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is a signal of conservatives’ dissatisfaction and distrust of the presumed GOP frontrunner.
With former US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich not on the Show Me State’s primary ballot, Santorum’s win demonstrated what happens when the conservative vote is not split.
And the results are not “pretty” for Romney…or for Gingrich for that matter.
Santorum wisely diverted himself and his limited resources from Florida, giving Gingrich a clear shot at Romney in Florida. And Romney won big.
Spin doctors have tried to paint Santorum’s Missouri upset as the result of the time the social conservative has spent stumping there.
No interpretation of what happened could be more absurd.
Making a handful of personal appearances does not translate into a landslide. Strong debate performances and solid conservative credentials in relation to his opponents have far more to do with Santorum’s impressive Missouri win.
And as Romney is a well.financed national candidate who has racked up two consecutive high-profile wins in the past week, he has no excuse for faring so poorly.
Tuesday night was not only a reset of the fight for the Republican presidential nomination but a referendum on Romney.