The shift to Santorum was fast and overwhelming. In the end, Santorum beat Romney by 27 points in a state Romney had won by 19 points back in 2008. Santorum scored an even bigger victory in Missouri's beauty-contest, nonbinding primary, beating Romney by 30 points. And even in Colorado, where the race was closer, Santorum came out ahead. For a candidate who hadn't won since his narrow and belated victory in Iowa, it was three victories in one night. Santorum has now won four contests to Romney's three and Gingrich's one.
Romney's team knew defeat was coming. On Tuesday morning, as it became clear Romney would not have a good night, his campaign's political director, Rich Beeson, sent out a memo trying to put things in perspective. "John McCain lost 19 states in 2008, and we expect our opponents to notch a few wins too," Beeson wrote. "But unlike the other candidates, our campaign has the resources and organization to keep winning over the long run."
After the returns came in, I asked Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley what he thought about Rich Beeson's message. Sure, Santorum did well on Tuesday, but doesn't Romney have the money and infrastructure to outdistance Santorum, and everyone else, in the long run?
"What an inspiring message," Gidley said sarcastically. "That is really inspiring. I can't wait to put a bumper sticker on my truck that says MONEY-INFRASTRUCTURE 2012."
"No one had more money and infrastructure than Hillary Clinton, and hope and change wiped her off the map," Gidley continued. "We'll have money, and we'll have infrastructure, but our nominee has to have a message that people can get behind and inspires people."Actually, Obama did have more money and infrastructure than Hillary Clinton.
Although Missouri was nonbinding, it still added greatly to Santorum's psychological boost. In hindsight, Gingrich's failure to meet the filing deadline -- which kept him off the ballot completely -- seems to be a significant blunder.