Santorum Super Tuesday closes with win in Colorado caucuses

Rick Santorum won the Colorado Republican caucuses Tuesday, garnering roughly 40 percent support and defeating runner-up Mitt Romney by nearly 4,000 votes. As see-sawing caucus tallies trickled in after 11 p.m., it became clear Santorum would sweep the three primary contests held Tuesday and revive his flagging candidacy to become the latest “anti-Romney” in the race.

Newt Gingrich drew nearly 13 percent of the Colorado vote and Ron Paul drew nearly 12 percent.

As in Colorado, Santorum won in Missouri and Minnesota Tuesday by working the states harder than did his rivals. Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul mostly ignored the three contests, an understandable strategy given that none of the races assigned delegates for the Republican nomination.

Colorado caucus goers, for example, were only choosing delegates to attend a party convention later this year.

In key ways, the Colorado contest mirrored the Iowa contest that kicked off the 2012 election season. Santorum won the caucuses there in a nail biter that similarly switched back and forth between Santorum and Romney– it did so there for weeks after the votes were cast. Likewise, as he did in Iowa, the social conservative Bible-thumping former Pennsylvania senator appealed strongly to Colorado’s intense and relatively large evangelical Republican voter base, which was unlikely to swing substantially for either Mormon Mitt Romney or philandering husband Newt Gingrich.

Tuesday’s results aren’t likely to greatly influence the Republican primary race. Romney appears to be marching to the nomination slowly but surely, notching wins in states that assign delegates to the national party’s nominating convention. A month from now, the Super Tuesday contests will see ten states cast votes, seven of which are primaries that award nominating delegates, and one of those will take place in Virginia, where only Romney and Paul have qualified for the ballot and where 49 delegates stand to be won.

Indeed, the Colorado contest was significant mostly as a general election forecast. On that score, Republicans can not be too pleased.

Tea party enthusiasm swept Republicans into office around the country in 2010 but not so much in Colorado. Democrats won the governor’s office and a crucial U.S. Senate seat. After years of bashing President Obama and looking forward to the opportunity to replace him, tea partiers here seem to be a bit at sea, their enthusiasm cooled.

With 99 percent of counties reporting, fewer Republican voters appear to have turned out for the caucuses this year than they did in 2008, before the tea party movement was even born. Perhaps more significant, Mitt Romney defeated John McCain in that year’s caucuses by pulling down roughly 42,200 votes. This year, the likely eventual GOP nominee garnered a mere 23,000 votes. Romney is not likely to suddenly energize Colorado Republicans in the fall.

By contrast, Obama in 2008– admittedly a relative unknown who was running in a spectacularly close primary against Hillary Clinton– drew 80,000 votes of 120,000 cast by Colorado Democratic caucus goers.

Obama’s campaign has been working the state at a low pace but almost non-stop since then.

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About the Author

John Tomasic

Writer, editor, teacher, web wrangler. He has worked for art, business, culture, politics publications, five universities and a UN war crimes commission. @johntomasic
jtomasic@coloradoindependent.com | 720-432-2128 |

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