When Mitt Romney won the Florida primary last Tuesday by 14 percentage points, how many people in America imagined that when Colorado, Missouri, and Minnesota were contested just seven days later, he would fail to win in any of them? But it wasn’t just that Romney lost. In Minnesota and Missouri, Romney failed to get even half as many votes as the winner, Rick Santorum. In Minnesota, Romney also finished 10 points behind the second-place finisher, Ron Paul (with 5 percent of precincts still outstanding). Santorum beat Romney by lopsided tallies of 55 to 25 percent in Missouri and 45 to 17 percent in Minnesota. Moreover, he beat Romney by 5 points (40 to 35 percent) in Colorado, where Romney won by 42 points (60 to 18 percent) over John McCain the last time around.
In all, the “inevitable” nominee has now lost in 5 of 8 states.
Santorum’s 30-point margin of victory in Missouri was the largest margin posted by any GOP candidate so far this year. True, no delegates were awarded as a result of that vote, but a quarter of a million Missourians still showed up and made their opinions known (more than anywhere else except for Florida and South Carolina).
What’s more, of the five largest states that have held votes so far this year (in order, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota, Colorado, and South Carolina), Romney has won by 14 points, lost by 30 points, lost by 28 points, lost by 5 points, and lost by 12 points.
With Romney now needing 1,057 delegates to win the nomination, Santorum needing 1,109, Newt Gingrich needing 1,112, Paul needing 1,131, and anyone else who might yet choose to enter needing 1,144, the outcome of this race is now anything but inevitable.