The Washington Post

Minnesota deals Mitt Romney his biggest blow

Tuesday was an embarrassing night for Mitt Romney, and nowhere was that more true than in Minnesota.

This was a state where the former Massachusetts governor had nearly everything going for him:

* He won the state in the 2008 presidential race by 18 points.

* He had the backing of the state’s two most high-profile Republicans, former governor Tim Pawlenty and former senator Norm Coleman. This is in contrast to his last two wins in Florida and Nevada, where the most high-profile Republicans kept their powder dry.

* And unlike the Missouri primary, which he also lost on Tuesday, Newt Gingrich was on the ballot in Minnesota, potentially stealing votes from Rick Santorum.

But despite all that, with nearly half of the vote in, Romney is in a distant third place, far behind even second-place Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and taking only about one in every six votes in tonight’s Minnesota caucuses.

Santorum, meanwhile, is flirting with taking 50 percent of the vote.

As of now, Romney is not winning the vote in any of the state’s 87 counties.

Unlike Missouri, Romney actually advertised a little in Minnesota and had some organization there, led by the likes of Pawlenty and Romney.

But for a Minnesota electorate known for doing some pretty drastic things, the rebuke of Romney on Tuesday night was right up there with being the only state to vote Democratic in the 1984 presidential election, electing former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura as its governor and electing former Saturday Night Live star Al Franken to the Senate.

Forget South Carolina and Missouri; Minnesota is the new low point for Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.


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