wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

Missouri primary results: Rick Santorum wins

at 09:58 PM ET, 02/07/2012

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum won Missouri’s “beauty contest” primary, the AP has declared.

Santorum led Mitt Romney 54 percent to 25 percent with 54 percent of precincts reporting — a resounding victory.

 “Tonight’s victory should put to bed the idea that the Republican nomination for Mitt Romney is inevitable,” said Stuart Roy, an adviser to the pro-Santorum super PAC Red White & Blue Fund. 

Because former House speaker Newt Gingrich was not on the ballot in the state and Texas Ron Paul largely ignored it, Missouri was a test-case of sorts for a direct matchup Romney and Santorum.

Santorum can now argue that if Gingrich would only bow out, he would be well-positioned to beat Romney.

Of course, there are a few problems with that analysis.

Missouri’s primary is meaningless to the delegate count. Thanks to some partisan bickering and internal GOP disputes, the state is holding both a primary and a caucus this cycle, and delegate allocation won’t begin until the March 17 caucus. Unsurprisingly, turnout was low.

The state also borders Iowa, the only other state Santorum has won. Santorum has yet to show broader appeal.

Romney’s difficulties here could be a sign of trouble to come for the likely nominee with Midwestern, working-class voters. However, his campaign has and will surely continue to argue that, given the low stakes and low turnout, it’s irresponsible to read too much into these results.

And this win will certainly give Santorum a fundraising boost — especially if he’s able to beat Romney in Minnesota as well. The results of the Land of 10,000 Lakes’ caucuses weren’t official as of this posting, but Santorum held a big lead early on.

 
Read what others are saying