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Surprising Casualty In The Midst Of Santorum’s Win

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Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum waits backstage before a rally February 7, 2012 in Blaine, Minn. (Photo by Ben Garvin/Getty Images)

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum waits backstage before a rally February 7, 2012 in Blaine, Minn. (Photo by Ben Garvin/Getty Images)

Written by Dominic Dezzutti

After the results of the three big races on Tuesday, many political pundits commented that Mitt Romney had the tough night, losing in Minnesota, Missouri, and somehow in Colorado. Indeed, the former Governor didn’t have a great night, but he wasn’t the real casualty from the evening.

RELATED: Santorum Wins Colorado Caucus

Looking at the results, especially in Colorado, the real casualty of Tuesday’s races was Newt Gingrich. Conservatives that do not support Romney were theoretically headed to Gingrich. However, conservatives on Tuesday went to Rick Santorum in major numbers and from a variety of areas.

Romney will need to run this race longer than he wanted and he will need to spend more money than he planned, however, Tuesday did not mortally wound his campaign.

The Gingrich campaign may be mortally wounded because he is becoming less and less relevant and if he plans to wait until Super Tuesday on March 6 to make a difference, it may be way too late.

Tuesday’s results will certainly extend the race for Rick Santorum. He still doesn’t have the resources to win across the country, let alone win the general election against President Obama. However, the surprising results will buoy Santorum through Super Tuesday, which is far more security he had on Monday.

On the other end of the spectrum, Newt Gingrich will not get any financial surge from Tuesday and since his one and only win came in South Carolina, his fifteen minutes as the flavor of the week are ticking by quickly.

Rick Santorum’s new spurt of popularity and success will come at the expense of any candidate seeking social conservative votes. Since Mitt Romney has rarely, if ever, been the darling of that segment of the GOP, his base is still secure.

Even though his past has a variety of issues and beliefs that would seemingly make him unattractive to social conservatives, Gingrich has fought hard for that group of staunch conservatives.

With Rick Santorum showing that he can make the more attractive and effective pull for those votes, Tuesday shows that Gingrich is a man without a country, so to speak.

If Mitt Romney had swept in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado, like he did in 2008, the storyline for Gingrich would be that he is still the real conservative choice and he would remain the main competition for Romney on March 6.

Rick Santorum rewrote that storyline in dramatic fashion.

I realize that Newt Gingrich was not on the ballot in Missouri and did not campaign much in Minnesota or Colorado; however, his actual results are not the point. The point is that the voters Gingrich was hoping to attract have found a new darling that will come out of Tuesday’s races with all of the headlines, momentum and fundraising advantage.

Gingrich may want to ignore Feb 7 and focus on March 6, but the fact of the matter is that Rick Santorum’s performance in February may have very well made March irrelevant for Newt Gingrich.

About The Blogger

- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.

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