- Several potentially strong opponents decided not to run;
- Perry screwed up;
- Iowa caucus vote-counters screwed up, giving Romney a psychologically important win on caucus night, even though Santorum won the final count.
- Newt stayed in the race;
- Newt and Santorum both failed to get on the Virginia ballot, and Santorum didn't file a full slate in Ohio;
- Newt and Santorum failed to do some basic oppo on Romney.
Mitt Romney could have assured himself victory months in advance in the now-crucial primary state of Illinois, but instead his Illinois campaign operation chose to allow Rick Santorum's delegates to remain on the ballot despite a failure to meet signature requirements.
Santorum, who has also failed to reach the ballot in Washington, D.C., Virginia, and parts of Ohio, fell short of the required signatures in 10 of the state's 18 congressional districts —and didn't submit any in four of them — Romney's campaign confirmed.
But Illinois Treasurer and Romney state chairman Dan Rutherford withdrew challenges in those districts, allowing Santorum the opportunity to win 30 delegates he would have missed out on.
The decision produced a quiet storm of outrage among Romney's allies in the state, who were bewildered by the decision to make a slam-dunk race competitive, and to grant an opening in the desperate scramble to reach the 1,144 delegates required for the Republican nomination.
"When there is a challenge filed because a campaign doesn't file the required number of signatures, it’s pretty much a no brainer," said a senior Romney supporter in Illinois. "The conservative folks started screaming bloody murder, and Rutherford caved."
"This isn't about Romney, it’s about Rutherford," he said