In a process that lasted longer than the Super Bowl pregame festivities, the Nevada Republican Party finally concluded vote counting and and posted the final caucus results. As expected, Romney gained a slight boost, to 50%, when the final Clark County results were totaled, but this changed nothing substantively except to bring his vote total exactly in line with my pre-caucus predictions. Gingrich remains second with 21% to Paul 19%, and Santorum finishes dead last at 10%. The end of vote counting also meant that the final turnout figures were established, and they were even worse than expected, with only 32,930 caucus participants, far less than the 44,000 from four years ago. Once again, Romney victory was tainted by underwhelming turnout.
Interestingly, despite his last place finish, Rick Santorum is enjoying something of a comeback in the estimation of some pundits by virtue of expectations that he will do well tomorrow in Missouri’s non-binding primary, and in Colorado’s and Minnesota’s caucuses. A PublicPolicyPolling (PPP) poll has Santorum neck-and-neck with Romney in Minnesota, and only 8% behind Romney in Colorado. In Missouri, at least one poll Santorum in the lead. (Keep in mind, however, that Gingrich is not on the ballot there.) Santorum is hoping that a strong performance in all three contests will vault him ahead of Gingrich into the “not-Mitt” alternative slot.
It’s possible, I suppose, but I’m not yet persuaded that Rick is the new Newt. He will likely best Newt in both caucuses tomorrow, but I don’t think the margins will be large enough to suggest that the end is near for Newt, who is banking on remaining in the race until SuperTuesday, when he expects to do well across the southern tier of states.
Of greater interest to me is the fate of Ron Paul’s campaign. He was banking on rolling up delegates in the caucus states, but he had a lackluster showing in Nevada, and so far he is not polling well in either Colorado or Minnesota. He may finish a distant second to Mitt in Maine, which concludes its caucus voting next Saturday. Unlike with Gingrich, there’s no obvious place where Paul is going to threaten to win outright, at least in the immediate future.
I’ll be on tomorrow with a preview of the caucus races. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this incisive analysis by Giselle Bunchden regarding why the Patriots lost yesterday:
“You (have) to catch the ball when you’re supposed to catch the ball,” she snapped back, according to CBS New York. “My husband cannot (bleeping) throw the ball and catch the ball at the same time. I can’t believe they dropped the ball so many times.”
There’s really nothing to add to that.
ADDENDUM: Apparently the full post did not show for some time tonight – my apologies. I blame the wonders of the internets.