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2012: Santorum's sweep

“Rick Santorum catapulted back into the primary limelight last night, stunning presumed Republican front-runner Mitt Romney in the Colorado caucuses while handily winning in Minnesota and Missouri. Although none of the votes were binding, the trio of losses sows doubts about the former Massachusetts governor’s ability to win over conservatives in the nation’s heartland,” the Boston Globe writes. “Santorum’s close victory in Colorado, considered the prize of the night, came despite aggressive campaigning by Romney in a state where he dominated eventual nominee John McCain in 2008 by more than 40 points.”

The New York Times: “The results on Tuesday shook the political world, which appeared to once again make the mistake of believing the Republican race for the presidency was finally set on a stable trajectory. But it was an open question whether the defeats were a momentary embarrassment or a prolonged setback for Mr. Romney. The triple result amounted to a stinging denial of Mr. Romney’s candidacy from three states where Republicanism is defined by the evangelicals and Tea Party adherents he has struggled to court this year.” 

“Mitt Romney just can't shake his difficulty attracting conservatives. And that reality is undercutting his effort to cast himself as the inevitable Republican presidential nominee and prolonging a race that each day exposes deep divisions within the party,” AP’s Peoples adds.

The New York Daily News’ headline: “'Fear the sweater vest': Rick Santorum pulls off hat trick with primary victories in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.”

The New York Post: “Santorum whips Mitt in Colo., Minn. & Mo.” From the story: “Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign took off last night as he swept GOP primary contests in three crucial battleground states. … Santorum’s victory in Colorado was a stinging blow to Romney, who carried the Rocky Mountain state with 60 percent of the GOP vote in 2008.”

The Daily Beast: “Newt’s Two-Man-Race Narrative Collapses After Santorum Victories.”

National Review Online’s Corner blog picks up a similar narrative of moving past Gingrich: “Winning the Tuesday trifecta gives Rick Santorum a second chance to make a first impression. This will give him the momentum that his delayed Iowa victory could have given him,” Henry Olsen writes.

But Charlotte Hays with the Independent Women’s Forum on Corner blog has this warning: “If you think Rick Santorum can get independents, go for it, folks. Senator Santorum, who enjoyed a magnificent triumph in three states last night, deserves a lot of credit, as he would no doubt be the first to tell you, for hanging in there. He has been impressive in recent debates. And a grateful nation thanks Mr. Santorum for seemingly having dispatched Newt Gingrich back under his bridge, at least for the time being. But last night was not good for the Republican party.”

A round up of front pages:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Santorum sweeps to victory in 3 states.”

St. Paul Pioneer Press: “Santorum on a roar.”

The Denver Post: “Santorum upsets race’s predictability.”

The Durango Herald: “Santorum comeback stuns rivals.”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Big Missouri win makes statement for Santorum.” (That’s the top front page headline despite no delegates being awarded in what was one of the closest states of the 2008 presidential election.

The Kansas City Star: “Santorum takes his turn in spotlight.”

COLORADO: Santorum won 40%-35% over Romney, Gingrich 13%, Paul 12%.

Turnout was down 6.7% from 2008. The total that voted this time around was 65,489 with 100% reporting, according to the Colorado Republican Party; 2008 was 70,229. Santorum won 44 of 64 counties. Romney won 19, Gingrich one (Bent which had a total of 51 votes.)

MINNESOTA: Santorum cleaned up with an 18-point win, 45%-27% over Paul, Romney third with 17%, Gingrich 11%.

Turnout was off in Minnesota also by about a quarter (24%). In 2008, 62,828 came out. This time around, just 47,801 turned out. And Romney got less than a third of the votes this time than in 2008. Santorum won 78 counties, Paul five, Gingrich four, and Romney zero.

MISSOURI: Santorum blew away the field in this largely uncontested beauty contest. He took a whopping 55%, with Romney second at 25%, Paul third with 12%. Gingrich wasn’t on the ballot.

Missouri wasn’t contested this time around, and it was a beauty contest, awarding no delegates based on last night’s results. But for the sake of numbers. Turnout was down 134% with 251,868 coming out in 2012 and 588,844 voting in 2008. Romney didn't even get half the vote he got in 2008, closer to a third. And Santorum won every single county.

ROMNEY: “[Yesterday], Restore Our Future, the so-called super PAC supporting Romney’s presidential candidacy, amended its latest report to the Federal Election Commission, solving the mystery of a $250,000 contribution last August from a California limited liability company that appeared to exist only on paper,” the Boston Globe writes. “The donation from ‘Glenbrook LLC’ of Redwood City was replaced with a pair of $125,000 donations from Jesse Rogers, a Palo Alto investment fund manager, and his wife, Melinda.”

“Mitt Romney’s tax returns have drawn political scrutiny on multiple fronts, like his relatively low tax rates and the money parked in a Swiss bank account. But on Capitol Hill, his returns have caught the eyes of members of both parties for what appears to be his use of a type of complex shelter that has been debated for years in battles over evasion and fairness in the tax code,” the New York Times says. “The technique in question allows nonprofit institutions and large retirement funds to exploit the advantages of shell companies set up in tax havens like the Cayman Islands by investing money with private equity firms like Bain Capital, which Mr. Romney ran. Ordinarily, such private equity investments are frequently subject to something called the unrelated business income tax. But by going offshore, pension funds, universities, foundations and even large individual retirement accounts can structure those investments to avoid that heavy tax.”