Monday, 12 March 2012

Santorum Wins Big in Kansas, Romney Takes Wyoming

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Former Sen. Rick Santorum won an overwhelming victory this weekend in the Kansas GOP presidential caucuses with more than half of the popular vote, while ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney took first place in Wyoming after doing well on Super Tuesday last week.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are still in the battle too, with Gingrich hoping to earn a victory in two upcoming southern states. So, according to analysts, anything is still possible and the nomination remains up for grabs despite Romney's momentum.

In Kansas, Santorum dominated the field, earning 51 percent of the popular vote and 33 out of 40 delegates, according to news reports. His campaign placed significant emphasis on securing a sizeable lead in the state and it appears that the strategy paid off.

Romney came in second with 21 percent despite not campaigning in the state, taking the other seven delegates. Gingrich and Paul both received less than 15 percent of the vote and zero delegates.

"This is definitely a good day for the campaign," said Santorum campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley in a statement after the Kansas results were announced. "We're the only ones that have proven we can win all over this country."

The former Senator styles himself a staunch social conservative. And despite critics' attacks on his credentials for having voted for large bills that subsidized contraception and abortion giant Planned Parenthood while in office, socially conservative voters in largely rural Kansas helped propel his campaign to victory. After the win, his supporters renewed their calls for Gingrich to drop out of the race.

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Wyoming has a much more complicated voting process and the state was mostly overlooked by the press. After several weeks of straw polling, local party officials were allowed to set the dates of their caucuses, which began on Super Tuesday. During the first round of voting last week, an estimated four delegates went to Romney. At least one went to Paul, who won Weston County on Super Tuesday.

While figures and estimates vary, Paul's campaign celebrated the initial results from the voting in Wyoming earlier this month. In a statement released on March 1, the Paul camp projected that if all went as planned, the liberty-minded Congressman would pick up at least half-a-dozen delegates.

“Ron Paul winning six delegates in Wyoming using few resources is an extraordinary outcome and it affirms that our delegate-attainment strategy can help Dr. Paul secure the Republican nomination,” said Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton in a statement, pointing to the constitutionalist's strategy of steadily accumulating delegates.

“The race to see who will face President Obama in a head-to-head matchup, a scenario that best favors Paul, is a 50-state one and ours is one of only two campaigns with the stamina, organization, and resources to get to Tampa on the way to the White House,” Benton added, with the other candidate being Romney. 

Over the weekend during the remaining county caucuses, Romney managed to pick up one more delegate, while Santorum reportedly earned two. One delegate remained uncommitted, while over a dozen “at-large” delegates will not be selected until the GOP state convention next month. 

Romney won Wyoming overwhelmingly in 2008, while Sen. John McCain, the eventual nominee, performed poorly there. Despite its tiny population, the state will be sending almost 30 delegates to the national convention in Tampa — more than larger population states such as Nevada and Connecticut. Under Republican Party rules, the fact that the state has a GOP Governor and legislature gives it more clout in the nomination process. 

Several U.S. territories also held presidential contests over the weekend. While Ron Paul won the popular vote in the Virgin Islands, Romney managed to pick up more delegates due to the party’s selection process. The former Governor also picked up delegates in the Northern Marianna Islands and Guam. 

On Tuesday, GOP primary voters in Alabama and Mississippi will be heading to the polls. Gingrich is expected to perform well, although surveys show the field is still open. "I think there's a fair chance we'll win," the former House Speaker told the Associated Press. "But I just want to set this to rest once and for all. We're going to [the national convention in] Tampa."

Hawaii and American Samoa will be holding caucuses on Tuesday as well.

Related articles:

Ron Paul Wins Popular Vote in Virgin Islands GOP Caucus

Romney's 6 Wins (Out of 10) on Super Tuesday May Mean Brokered Convention