The Fix: Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum could be a thorn in Ted Cruz’s side in 2016. Here’s why.

Rick Santorum could be a thorn in Ted Cruz’s side in 2016. Here’s why.

Was the end result of Ted Cruz’s effort to derail Obamacare in the recently concluded budget debate a good one? Rick Santorum doesn’t think so.

“I would say that in the end, he did more harm,” Santorum said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” adding that while Cruz’s aim was worthy, his follow through wasn’t effective.

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How much does Iowa matter? Not as much as you might think.

How much does Iowa matter? Not as much as you might think.

AMES, Iowa -- Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, and even the Donald.

Yep, just another weekend in Iowa.

The first-in the-nation caucus state has been flooded with attention this year from potential Republican 2016 contenders, pretenders and power brokers.

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2016 is well underway in Iowa. Just look at this weekend.

2016 is well underway in Iowa. Just look at this weekend.

Blink and you might have missed the start of the 2016 presidential campaign in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

It will ramp up in the next couple of days with several events featuring the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Rick Santorum, and Emily's List, a group that works to elect women who support abortion rights, and has launched a campaign to elect a female president.

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Rick Santorum says Biden played the ‘race card’

Rick Santorum says Biden played the ‘race card’

Top Mitt Romney surrogate Rick Santorum said Sunday that Vice President Biden was “playing the race card” when he said last week that Republicans want to deregulate Wall Street and put people “back in chains.”

Biden’s comment, made in front of a southern Virginia audience that included many African-Americans, has drawn fire from Republicans who say it was racially insensitive.

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Ranking the Republican presidential candidates: The best and worst

Ranking the Republican presidential candidates: The best and worst

The Republican primary is now over. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s decision to end his bid on Tuesday means that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney will be the Republican standard-bearer against President Obama in the fall.

The end of the race means a time for reflection in Fixworld. (We are nothing if not introspective.) And, regular readers know the Fix loves looking back at the campaign that was and deciding who did it best and, more deliciously, who did it worst. (Some people call this back seat driving; we call it “analysis”!)

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Rick Santorum’s most memorable moments

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign was always a longshot prospect. But the former Pennsylvania senator succeeded in one respect — he will no longer be remembered just for his stunning 17-point loss in the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate race.

Now that his campaign is over, here are the moments we think will be remembered of Santorum 2012, both good and bad.

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What Rick Santorum meant — and why he was right to drop out

What Rick Santorum meant — and why he was right to drop out

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid today, bringing to a close a campaign that succeeded beyond the expectations almost anyone — perhaps up to and including the candidate — had set for him.

By ending his campaign two weeks before the Pennsylvania primary, Santorum avoided what could have been an embarrassing defeat to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in his home state and preserved not only his raised profile within the party but his chances of running as a viable candidate in either 2016 or 2020.

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Rick Santorum drops out of the presidential race

Updated at 3:09 p.m.

Rick Santorum announced Tuesday that he is suspending his presidential campaign, all but bringing to a close the 2012 GOP presidential contest and effectively handing the nomination to Mitt Romney.

“We made a decision over the weekend that, while this presidential race for us is over — for me — and we will suspend our campaign effective today, we are not done fighting,” Santorum said at a campaign event in Gettysburg, Pa., the site of the historic and pivotal Civil War battle.

The former Pennsylvania senator had been Romney’s top opponent, but he suffered a trio of defeats last week in Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, and over the weekend his daughter, Bella, was hospitalized for the second time this campaign due to complications from a rare genetic disorder.

In announcing his decision, Santorum said Bella’s condition caused him to reconsider his campaign but that she “is a fighter and doing extraordinarily well.”

He did not endorse or urge the delegates that he has won to support another candidate, but spokesman Hogan Gidley told MSNBC that the Romney campaign has requested a meeting about an endorsement, which he said Santorum is “open” to.

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Why Ron Paul matters more than Newt Gingrich

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s long, slow fade into political oblivion in this presidential primary race has received lots — and lots — of attention.


Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, cheer as Paul speaks at the University of California at Berkeley, Calif., Thursday, April 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
“People walk up again and again and say, ‘Please stay in, and please fight for conservatism’,” Gingrich told the Post’s Karen Tumulty over the weekend. (Gingrich has never been one to hide his light under a bushel.)

Rumors fly constantly — some cropped up late last week — that conservatives are attempting to broker a deal whereby Gingrich gets out of the race (he’s not going to) and throws his support behind former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum. Conservatives are united and reenergized, the logic goes, and Gingrich, who has won a total of one state outside of his home state of Georgia, saves the conservative cause.

There’s only one problem with all of that: There’s virtually no evidence that Gingrich retains any significant constituency within the GOP or will play an influential role in the presidential race as it moves to its general election phase.

In fact, there is a case to be made that Gingrich matters far less in the contest than Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

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Rick Santorum cancels Monday campaign events due to daughter’s health

Rick Santorum cancels Monday campaign events due to daughter’s health

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign announced Saturday that the former Pennsylvania senator would suspend events scheduled for Monday so that he could spend time with his hospitalized daughter.

“Senator Santorum will not hold any campaign related events on Monday so that he and Karen can remain in the hospital with their daughter Bella,” said campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley. “The entire Santorum family is incredibly grateful for the outpouring of prayers and support.”

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Rick Santorum huddles with conservative leaders, ponders future in race

Rick Santorum huddles with conservative leaders, ponders future in race

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum met with conservative leaders Thursday in Northern Virginia to discuss his path forward in the Republican presidential race, according to sources familiar with the gathering.

The conversation focused on the struggling candidacy of former House speaker Newt Gingrich and whether a final push could be made to unite conservatives and stop the likely nomination of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. The idea of Santorum leaving the race was not raised.

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Rick Santorum edges toward the embarrassment zone

Rick Santorum edges toward the embarrassment zone

Rick Santorum isn’t going to be the Republican presidential nominee.

That fact is impossible (or close to impossible) to dispute given Santorum’s delegate deficit to Mitt Romney and the rallying of the party behind the former Massachusetts governor.

That doesn’t mean, however, that Santorum can’t leave the 2012 campaign as a major winner. But in order to do so, he needs to avoid crossing from credible underdog to embarrassing windmill-charger in these final days (or weeks) of his campaign.

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Wisconsin primary: Rick Santorum’s Waterloo?

Wisconsin primary: Rick Santorum’s Waterloo?

Is it over yet?

Even the most die-hard political junkies could be forgiven for wondering when the Republican presidential race will take its last heaving breath and keel over, never to be heard from again.

The death rattle is clearly audible in the race these days, as former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney spars with the White House while former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum tries, in vain, to convince an ever-shrinking piece of the Republican electorate that this race is still a race.

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Rick Santorum’s ‘Win or go home’ states

This blog compared Rick Santorum to the “Walking Dead” the other day. But at least he’s still walking.

The question, then, is when the “Walking Dead” becomes simply the “Dead.” When does Santorum quite simply not have the ability to keep the pirate ship afloat? Where can Mitt Romney deliver the knockout blow?
Presidential candidate and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) attends a prayer service at the Path of the Cross Evangelical Church on March 14, 2012, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

Below, The Fix boils the GOP presidential race down to five “Win or go home” states for Santorum:

1. Wisconsin (April 3): Romney is a strong favorite in Maryland and the District of Columbia on Tuesday, so the real question is whether Santorum can pull a victory in Wisconsin’s primary. The Pennsylvania senator has yet to win a contested primary in the Midwest and doesn’t sound optimistic about Wisconsin, but it might be hard for him to continue if he loses.

And given the three-week layoff between these three contests and the next ones, Santorum needs something to hang his hat on (and keep donors interested enough to keep the lights on).

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Is Mitt Romney underrated?

Is Mitt Romney underrated?

In our newspaper column today, we argued that Mitt Romney is underrated as a presidential candidate.

Our argument, in brief, went like this:

* Romney is a Mormon in a party dominated by evangelicals.

* Romney represented a Northeastern state in a party still quite South-centric.

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The “walking dead” phase of the Republican primary is upon us

The “walking dead” phase of the Republican primary is upon us

This is how primary campaigns end — not with a bang but with a wimper. Or, more accurately, a whine.

Rick Santorum lost his temper with the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny on Sunday when Zeleny, perhaps the most even-tempered reporter we know, pushed the former Pennsylvania Senator on his remark that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would be the “worst Republican” to nominate against President Obama .

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Rick Santorum’s end game (and why it matters)

Rick Santorum’s end game (and why it matters)

The last 48 hours have not been kind to former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s presidential prospects.

He lost the Illinois primary badly to Mitt Romney on Tuesday and, in the process, fell 300 delegates behind the former Massachusetts governor. And, adding insult to injury, former Florida governor Jeb Bush finally decided to wade into the presidential race on behalf of Romney on Wednesday, a signal to the Republican political world that primary race is at an end.

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The 2012 GOP presidential race — in 5 charts.

The Fix has spilled tens of thousands — maybe even hundreds of thousands (gulp) — of words on the 2012 presidential race. (Heck, we started covering it around the middle of 2009!)

But, in truth, the entire race — at least on the Republican side — can be explained in five charts.

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Rick Santorum has an enthusiasm problem too

All the talk about the lack of enthusiasm about Mitt Romney misses one key fact: Rick Santorum’s supporters may actually be just as lukewarm about their guy.

The last several Republican primaries have shown a subtle trend in the Republican presidential race, in which Santorum’s supporters say they are about as excited as Romney’s supporters — i.e. not very.
Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) speaks during a campaign rally Monday in Dixon, Ill. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

And it goes a long way to explain why Santorum hasn’t been able to catch fire, even as Newt Gingrich’s campaign has basically fallen off the map.

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5 counties to watch in the Illinois primary

5 counties to watch in the Illinois primary

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is expected to cruise to victory over Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in tonight’s Illinois Republican presidential primary.

But, how will you know if Romney is running at, above or below expectations? With 102(!) counties in Illinois, it’s tough to know where to look. That’s where we come in.

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Rick Santorum doesn’t have a (Republican) woman problem

Rick Santorum doesn’t have a (Republican) woman problem

Judging from the coverage of Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign over the last few weeks, you might think that the former Pennsylvania Senator’s numbers would be cratering among women.

But you would be wrong. Way wrong.

In a new Washington Post-ABC poll, Santorum’s numbers among Republican and Republican-leaning women have soared over the past month. He now has the highest favorability rating among that group of any of the top-tier Republican presidential candidates.

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Is Rick Santorum closer in the delegate race than we think?

Rick Santorum’s campaign on Monday set about arguing that it is actually much closer in the delegate race than current projections indicate.

Rather than the 268-delegate deficit that AP currently projects, Santorum’s campaign estimates that it trails only by 124 delegates, according to a memo obtained by ABC News.
Standing in front of a statue of Ronald Reagan on horseback, Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum speaks at a campaign rally Monday in Dixon, Ill. Dixon is the boyhood home of Reagan. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

It’s theoretically possible. But it’s also a best-case scenario that is unlikely, and it’s based on a lot of assumptions that are hard to make.

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The 2012 presidential race. By Google.

The story of the 2012 Republican presidential race — as told by Google searches. (If you have not bookmarked Google’s Politics and Elections blog, you should. Like, immediately.)

What Rick Santorum’s Puerto Rico sideshow tells us about his campaign

What Rick Santorum’s Puerto Rico sideshow tells us about his campaign

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum spent several days in Puerto Rico over the past week but won only 8 percent of the vote and no delegates in Sunday’s primary, a result that suggests that his visit amounted to both a colossal waste of time and a considerable strategic mistake.

“Insurgencies live and die on momentum and I’m sure that drove their decision-making, but the failure to recognize the structural nature of the Puerto Rico primary indicates impulse decisions instead of cold-eyed analysis,” said Brad Todd, a Republican media consultant who is unaffiliated in the 2012 presidential contest.

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Romney ad: Santorum is an ‘economic lightweight’

Mitt Romney’s campaign is up with a new ad in the Illinois primary labeling Rick Santorum an “economic lightweight” and comparing him — surprise! — to President Obama.

The ad picks up on bad reviews of Santorum’s economic plan from several sources, one of which labels it the worst plan in the GOP field.

“Rick Santorum: Another economic lightweight,” the ad says as it juxtaposes video of Santorum with to video of Obama.

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Why Mitt Romney should win Illinois

Why Mitt Romney should win Illinois

If past is prologue, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney should win the Illinois presidential primary on Tuesday.

It’s not because he’s ahead — albeit narrowly — in most polling in the Prairie State. And, it’s not because he is a better ideological fit for the state than former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

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Republicans on the 2012 GOP field: Blah.

Republicans on the 2012 GOP field: Blah.

None of the top three Republican presidential candidates has created much enthusiasm among GOP voters, according to new poll numbers released by Gallup on Thursday.

Just 35 percent of Republicans said they would “enthusiastically” support former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney this November, while 42 percent said their vote would be primarily against President Obama.

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Are there moderates left in the GOP?

Are there moderates left in the GOP?

With all the focus in the Republican presidential race on former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s struggles with conservatives, we got to wondering about the other end of the ideological spectrum within the Republican party.

Put simply: How many Republicans identify themselves as moderates or liberals in exit polling conducted in the 2012 race to date? And are there enough centrists in the party to deliver Romney the nomination?

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What you might have missed in the Alabama, Mississippi exit polls

What you might have missed in the Alabama, Mississippi exit polls

The Fix loves exit polls. Like, a lot.

But, once primary day/night passes, the political world rapidly moves on to the next Tuesday, the next state that is, or so we say, really going to matter. And the poor exits poll get lost in the shuffle.

Not this time! Here are five observations from the exit polls Tuesday night that tell us something important about the race going forward. Want to sift through them on your own? The Washington Post polling unit has a terrific sortable interactive exit poll tool. It’s fun — and educational!

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Santorum says Fox News “shilling” for Romney

Rick Santorum is going after Fox News Channel, accusing it of “shilling for” Mitt Romney’s campaign.

On Brian Kilmeade’s Fox News Radio show today, Santorum said his campaign has noticed the trend.

“This is a man who’s had a 10-to-1 money advantage. He’s had all the organizational advantages. He has Fox News shilling for him everyday. No offense, Brian, but I see it,” Santorum said.

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Mississippi, Alabama primaries: 5 counties to watch

Mississippi, Alabama primaries: 5 counties to watch

Need to know where to look to figure out who’s having a good night in the Alabama and Mississippi presidential primaries? We’ve got you covered.

We asked a handful of political operatives in both states to give us the one (or two) counties that will tell us something significant about how former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are faring tonight.

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The dirty little secret of the Alabama and Mississippi primaries

The dirty little secret of the Alabama and Mississippi primaries

Here’s a simple fact that has been lost amid Mitt Romney’s newfound love of grits, Newt Gingrich’s desire for gun racks on Chevy Volts and Rick Santorum’s insistence that the South is a home game for him: None of the top three Republican presidential contenders are “of” the South in any meaningful way.

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Alabama, Mississippi primaries: The Fix prediction contest!

Voters are voting in Alabama and Mississippi (and Hawaii and American Samoa)!


Madison United Methodist Church precinct worker Bob Shirley, left, hands off a "I Voted" sticker to a voter in Madison, Miss., Tuesday, March 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
That means it’s time for a Fix prediction contest where you, gentle reader, make the call on how the candidates will finish. If you win, the greatest prize known to man (or woman) — an official Fix t-shirt — is yours.

Here’s what you need to do: In the comments section below, predict the order of finish — with percentages! — for the top three candidates in Mississippi and Alabama. As a tiebreaker, give us your total turnout number for Alabama.

Polls close in both states at 8 p.m. eastern time so any predictions made after that time won’t count. And, to be eligible to win, you must make your prediction in the comments section.

Need some guidance? Here’s the latest polling in Alabama and Mississippi. Now get to it!

Mississippi, Alabama and the power of political surprises

Mississippi, Alabama and the power of political surprises

For all of its unpredictability, there have been few actual surprises since voters began casting ballots in the 2012 Republican presidential race.

Mitt Romney won New Hampshire. Newt Gingrich won South Carolina. Romney won Florida. Even Rick Santorum’s (eventual) victory in Iowa wasn’t entirely surprising since polling suggested he was surging and social conservative candidates have a history of strong performances in the Hawkeye State. Santorum almost won in Michigan and Ohio, both of which would have been real surprises, but he didn’t.

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Republicans’ war on the TelePrompter — and its limits

Republicans’ war on the TelePrompter — and its limits

From the start of the 2012 presidential race, the most consistent — and popular — criticism of President Obama by the GOP candidates has not been on the economy, health care or foreign policy. It’s been on the incumbent’s use of a TelePrompter.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum took the TelePrompter criticism to a whole new level over the weekend by declaring that “when you run for president of the United States, it should be illegal to read off a TelePrompter,” adding: “Because all you’re doing is reading someone else’s words to people.”

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Republican voters not in love with Romney, Santorum

Republican voters not in love with Romney, Santorum

The Ohio presidential primary revealed one key thing about the Republican electorate: They haven’t fallen head over heels for either of the two frontrunning candidates.

While former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum finished first and second, respectively, in the Ohio balloting (and won more than 900,000 votes combined) the support for both men, according to an analysis of the exit polling, was far more tepid than you might expect.

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What’s more interesting than the GOP race? President Obama.

What’s more interesting than the GOP race? President Obama.

Over the last 30 days, the Republican presidential race has been going great guns with a series of states voting, millions being spent and the candidates trading blows on a moment-by-moment basis.

And yet, for all the attention the GOP candidates have drawn, it pales in comparison to the interest directed at President Obama, according to a breakdown of searches conducted over the last month by Google.

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Is Mitt Romney getting a raw deal?

Is Mitt Romney getting a raw deal?

Mitt Romney, having won six of the ten states voting on Super Tuesday including the grand prize of Ohio, almost certainly woke up Wednesday morning, read the news coverage of his victories and thought to himself: “What else do I have to do?”

And he could be forgiven for thinking that way. After all, the pre-Super Tuesday expectation-setting by the media — up to and including this here blog — suggested that if Romney vanquished former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in Ohio he would have not only “won” the biggest primary day of the year but also taken a major step toward emerging as the Republican presidential nominee. There was no discussion about what Romney’s margin of victory had to be in Ohio in order for the win to truly count as a win.

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Super Tuesday: Winners and losers

Super Tuesday:  Winners and losers

Super Tuesday is over. Long live Super Tuesday!

The Republican presidential primary campaign’s busiest night — 10 states voted in all — turned more into a marathon than a sprint as the Ohio primary wasn’t called for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney until early Wednesday morning. (More on that below.)

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Super Tuesday: Rating the GOP candidates’ speeches

Super Tuesday: Rating the GOP candidates’ speeches

Ohio’s Republican presidential primary is still up in the air — and could be for a very long time — but all of the major candidates have already given their victory speeches.

With apologies to Ron Paul, whose speech wasn’t widely televised (cut the conspiracy theories!), here are our Fix ratings of the addresses given by former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. They are ranked from best to worst. Agree or disagree with our picks? The comments section awaits!

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Ohio, Ohio, Ohio

Super Tuesday has played out exactly as we expected thus far. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has won in Massachusetts, Virginia and Vermont while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has claimed his home state of Georgia and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum has claimed Tennessee.

What do those status quo results mean as we go forward tonight? That Ohio remains the entire ball of wax — or close to it.

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Why Mitt Romney’s Virginia win could matter. A lot.

Why Mitt Romney’s Virginia win could matter. A lot.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s victory in Virginia, according to the Associated Press, will be quickly forgotten as the eyes of the political world turn to the primaries in Ohio and Tennessee — contests expected to be more closely fought on this Super Tuesday night.

It shouldn’t be.

Romney’s victory in the Commonwealth will almost certainly net him all 46 of Virginia’s delegates due to the fact that only he and Texas Rep. Ron Paul qualified for the ballot.

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Early exit poll: Richer, more educated Ohio voters

Early exit poll: Richer, more educated Ohio voters

The Ohio presidential primary electorate is more educated and higher income than during the state’s 2008 GOP vote and prize business experience over government experience, according to early exit polling in the Buckeye State.

Nearly half of all Ohio primary voters have a college degree and three in ten have a household income of $100,000 or more. Two-thirds say they would prefer a candidate with business experience while just one in four would rather a candidate with experience in government.

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The 2012 Republican presidential campaign — in tweets.

The Fix posse — like most of the political world — are Twitter addicts. It’s become the medium through which all political news breaks. You literally cannot cover the campaign without keeping an eye — and sometimes both eyes — on Twitter.

But, how reflective is Twitter of the various ups and downs of a campaign that has been a rollercoaster ride since voters started voting on Jan. 3 in Iowa?

Pretty reflective, it turns out. Check out the chart below that tracks the peaks and valleys of the campaign through the Twitter traffic around each of the four Republican candidates.

Make sure to check out the full screen chart if you want a closer look.

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Oklahoma primary: Rick Santorum seems set to win

Today we’re running through the final polls in the most important Super Tuesday states — Ohio, Oklahoma, Georgia and Tennessee.

There’s a serious dearth of polling in Oklahoma.

But former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is expected to do just fine in the Sooner State. The most recent Sooner Poll, taken in mid-February, gives him a double-digit lead.

More conservative — socially and otherwise — than nearby Tennessee, Oklahoma has a high evangelical population and a fondness for outspoken, hardline politicians.

While Sen. Tom Coburn (R) gave his support to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Santorum is the heavy favorite here.

More from PostPolitics

Liveblog: Super Tuesday results

Interactive: 2012 Republican primary tracker

The Take: What Obama can teach the GOP

The Super Tuesday stakes — in three minutes! (VIDEO)

Tired of reading all those pesky words the media has been writing about what’s at stake in today’s Super Tuesday primaries? Who isn’t!

We’ve got the antidote: A three-minute video that tells you everything you need to know about the 10 states voting today. Plus, it has all sorts of cool graphics and a tiny version of Fix Original Recipe.

Check it out. Then check it out again. Fix Jr. needs a new pair of shoes.

Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney tied in new Ohio poll

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney are in a statistical dead heat in the critical Ohio presidential primary, according to a new NBC/Marist poll.

Santorum takes 34 percent while Romney lags just two points behind at 32 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich receives 15 percent support while Texas Rep. Ron Paul clocks in at 13 percent.


Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speaks at a Lincoln Day dinner, Saturday, March 3, 2012, in Lima, Ohio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Santorum wins 36 percent to 33 percent for Romney among self-identified Republicans while Santorum sits at 31 percent and Romney at 30 percent among independents.

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The in­cred­ibly searchable Rick Santorum

The in­cred­ibly searchable Rick Santorum

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum was the story in the Republican presidential race over the past month. How do we know? Google told us, natch.

Here’s a look at which of the four remaining presidential candidates drew the most search interest in the ten Super Tuesday states over the past 30 days:

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Five lessons learned from the Republican presidential race

Eleven states have cast their votes in the Republican presidential nominating contest. Ten more will do so in six days time, the biggest single day of voting in the GOP race.


Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney waves at his election night party in Novi, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Now then seems like as good a time as any to take three big steps back and look at what lessons the first two months of votes have taught us about the Republican race.

Below are the five biggest lessons we’ve learned in the race to date. (And, yes, all lessons learned come in groups of five. It’s just how it works.)

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Santorum campaign claims a tie in Michigan

Rick Santorum’s campaign is declaring the Michigan primary to be a tie — pointing out that it looks like each candidate will win 15 of the state’s 30 delegates.

While there has been no final determination of who won how many delegates in Michigan on Tuesday, current results suggest both candidates won seven of the state’s 14 congressional districts, each of which award two delegates to the winner. In addition, Santorum adviser John Brabender said the state’s two at-large delegates are likely to be split between Romney and Santorum because the vote was so close.


Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. senator Rick Santorum holds up a piece of oil-rich shale rock as he speaks with supporters at an election night rally on Feb. 28, 2012 in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Joe Raedle — Getty Images)

“It’s highly likely this is going to end up being a tie, based on the data that we have,” Brabender said. “I don’t know how you look at that as anything besides this being a strong showing for Rick Santorum and anything short of a disaster for Mitt Romney.

“If we can do this well in Romney’s home state, this bodes well for Super Tuesday.”

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Setting the Super Tuesday stakes

Setting the Super Tuesday stakes

On Super Tuesday more delegates will be awarded than in in the first two months of the Republican presidential race combined.

With 10 states awarding more than 400 delegates, March 6 is the day on the calendar that political junkies have had circled for months. It’s the closest thing to a national primary day we’ll have before the nominee is ultimately chosen with states from Vermont and Massachusetts in the Northeast to Oklahoma in the Plains, Idaho in the Mountain West and even Alaska in the non-Lower 48 all casting ballots.

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Despite victory, Romney may split Michigan’s delegates with Santorum

Mitt Romney won the popular vote in Michigan on Tuesday, but it’s still possible that Rick Santorum will win just as many delegates.

Given the close nature of the contest and the fact that almost all of the state’s delegates will be awarded by congressional district, there is still some uncertainty about whether Romney will also take home more delegates.

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‘Operation Hilarity’ fizzles

Rick Santorum’s effort to woo Democratic voters in Michigan failed.

While there was much hype about Democrats voting for Santorum as results began to trickle in early Tuesday night — in large part thanks to some helpful nudging from big-name Democrats in the days leading up to Tuesday’s primary — a closer look at the numbers show it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

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Why Mitt Romney’s Arizona win matters

Why Mitt Romney’s Arizona win matters

Michigan’s too-close-to-call primary is getting all the headlines tonight but Mitt Romney’s clear victory in Arizona shouldn’t be underestimated.

Why? Because Arizona is a winner-take-all state, meaning that Romney claims all 29 of the state’s delegates with the win. No matter what happens in Michigan neither Santorum nor Romney will come close to winning that many delegates.

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Is ‘Operation Hilarity’ working?

Is ‘Operation Hilarity’ working?

Nine percent of voters in the Michigan Republican presidential primary identified themselves as Democrats, according to exit polling, the largest portion of the electorate the rival party has comprised to date in the GOP nomination fight.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is winning self identified Michigan Democrats by a three to one margin over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, numbers that suggest that the efforts by Santorum and the Democratic party in the state — talk about an odd couple! — is actually working.

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Rick Santorum wins search wars in Arizona, Michigan

Rick Santorum wins search wars in Arizona, Michigan

Rick Santorum is in a dead heat with Mitt Romney in today’s Michigan primary and looks to be headed toward a sound defeat in the Arizona primary.

But, measured on search traffic alone, Santorum is winning — big time. (Or is he? More on that below.)

Here’s a look at searches in Michigan for Santorum, Romney, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich over the past week :

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Michigan, Arizona primaries: The Fix Prediction Contest!

Voters are voting! Michigan and Arizona hold their presidential primaries today, the tenth and eleventh states to do so in the Republican presidential race this year.


ROYAL OAK, MI - FEBRUARY 27: Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) greets musician Kid Rock during a campaign rally at the Royal Oak Theatre on February 27, 2012 in Royal Oak, Michigan. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Don’t live in Arizona or Michigan but still want to have some skin in the game? Welcome to our Fix Prediction Contest — where you pick the winners and, if you’re right, get an official Fix t-shirt. It’s like gambling but with t-shirts.

In the comments section below, predict the order of finish — with percentages! — for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in Michigan and Arizona. As a tiebreaker, offer your prediction for total turnout in Michigan.

Most polls close in Michigan at 8 p.m. eastern time so any predictions made after that time won’t be considered. And you must — let me emphasize must — offer your prediction in the comments section below to be eligible. Predictions sent via email, Twitter and Facebook will not count.

Predict away!

The Michigan primary: Five counties to watch

The Michigan primary: Five counties to watch

Voters in Michigan head to the polls today, carrying the fate of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s presidential bid in their hands. Win Michigan and, as expected, Arizona, and Romney almost certainly reasserts himself as the clear frontrunner in the Republican race. Lose Michigan and the calls for Romney to reconsider his candidacy will begin. It’s that simple.

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Rick Santorum seeks Democratic support in Michigan robocalls

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign is actively seeking the support of Democrats in Tuesday’s Michigan primary, running a robocall that sounds oddly like one that would be run by an organized labor group.

“Michigan Democrats can vote in the Republican primary on Tuesday,” the narrator says in a copy of the automated call to Democratic voters that was initially obtained by Talking Points Memo. “Why is it so important? (Mitt) Romney supported the bailout for his Wall Street billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailout. That was a slap in the face to every Michigan worker. And we’re not going to let Romney get away with it.”

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Could crossover voters play spoiler in Michigan?

If Rick Santorum can pull out a narrow victory in Tuesday’s Michigan primary, he might have Democrats to thank.

Or at least, that’s how the theory goes.

For weeks now, political observers and politicians have been whispering about the impact Democrats could have on the state’s GOP primary, with the idea being that they would vote for Santorum in a concerted and deliberate effort to prevent Mitt Romney from winning — and prolonging the Republican presidential race in the process.
Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney does an interview with the Motor Racing Network during his appearance at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 54th Daytona 500 race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, on Sunday. (REUTERS/Joe Skipper)

It even has a name: Operation Hilarity.

But the likelihood that they will actually tip the scales against Romney is pretty small, for a host of reasons.

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GOP leaders fret about fallout from primary, and for good reason

Mike Huckabee criticized the tenor of the GOP presidential race on Sunday, becoming the latest Republican Party elder statesmen to caution the current field of candidates against how the campaign has been conducted.

“A lot of it is that I think that there’s just such a toxic atmosphere now, specifically in the Republican Party,” Huckabee said in an interview with an Israeli TV station. “And I would love to be able to say that it’s going to be all about ideas and solutions, but unfortunately, a lot of it is just being able to say I (am) more angry at the Obama administration than somebody else.”

Huckabee joins other GOP graybeards like Jeb Bush and Haley Barbour, and some Republican governors in expressing dismay at the direction of the GOP race.

And the numbers show they have good reason for concern.

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Rick Santorum’s greatest sin: Endorsing Arlen Specter

Rick Santorum’s 18-point loss in his 2006 reelection campaign has been a black mark on his presidential campaign from day one.

But when it comes to costing him votes in this year’s Republican presidential primary, the 2006 Pennsylvania Senate race has nothing on the 2004 version.

While questions about Santorum’s electability stemming from his big loss six years ago have dogged his campaign all along, it may actually be Santorum’s decision to endorse Arlen Specter in the 2004 Keystone State Senate race that really costs him the GOP nomination.

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Specter scoffs at Santorum's endorsement claim

Former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter said Thursday that Rick Santorum got his facts wrong when he said that he endorsed Specter only after securing a promise that Specter would support GOP Supreme Court nominees.


Arlen Specter (CHARLES DHARAPAK - AP)

At Wednesday night's debate in Arizona, Santorum (as he is often forced to do) defended his 2004 endorsement of Specter. Specter at the time was a moderate Republican facing a conservative primary challenge, and the GOP stood by its incumbent, feeling he had the best chance to win in a nominally blue state.

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Romney and Paul successfully call Santorum’s conservatism into question

Rick Santorum’s front-runner status in the GOP presidential race is predicated on the idea that he is the consistent conservative alternative in the field.

And that image had some serious holes poked in it at Wednesday’s debate in Arizona.

Mitt Romney and Ron Paul tag-teamed the former Pennsylvania senator much of the night, calling into question his conservatism on issues ranging from earmarks and fiscal policy to his endorsements and even what is often considered Santorum’s most solidly conservative credential — social issues.

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New Ron Paul ad attacks Rick Santorum: ‘Is this dude serious?’

Another sign that Rick Santorum is the new front-runner — he’s under attack from Ron Paul.

In a clever new ad, the libertarian-leaning Texas House member attacks the former Pennsylvania senator as a faux fiscal conservative.

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Santorum aide: I ‘misspoke’ on Obama’s ‘radical Islamic policies’

A spokeswoman for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum said Monday that she “misspoke” when she said the candidate had been describing President Obama’s “radical Islamic policies.”
Rick Santorum on “Face the Nation.” (GETTY IMAGES)

At a campaign stop in Ohio on Saturday, Santorum said the president’s agenda was based in “phony theology. ... not a theology based on the Bible.” On CBS the next day, he said he was “talking about the radical environmentalists,” not questioning the president’s personal faith.

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Newt Gingrich’s risky Super Tuesday strategy

Newt Gingrich is handing Rick Santorum a golden opportunity to prove himself as the true anti-Romney conservative before Super Tuesday.

So far, the former House speaker’s campaign has shown little inclination to play in the three states that will hold their contests before March 6, a risky strategy that could pretty easily backfire.

That may be changing — Gingrich has hired some staff in Washington and is now pledging to visit Michigan — but his campaign is a little late to the game, which could play into Santorum’s hands.

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Foster Friess, Santorum backer, jokes about using aspirin as birth control

Foster Friess, the wealthy investor bankrolling a super PAC for GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, appeared on MSNBC Thursday to argue that social issues are largely irrelevant.

If he wanted to take focus away from Santorum's recent remarks about birth control and premarital sex, however, he didn’t succeed.

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Rick Santorum allies make major Michigan ad buy

The Red White and Blue Fund, a super PAC supporting former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, is making a $700,000 ad buy in Michigan ahead of the Feb. 28 primary.

As of Wednesday, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and his super PAC supporters were outspending Santorum and his allies 29-to-1 in Michigan this week. This buy will correct some of that imbalance.

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Santorum ad targets Romney’s ‘mud’ in Michigan

Rick Santorum’s campaign is up with a new ad in Michigan going negative on Mitt Romney and accusing him of “firing mud at” Santorum.

The ad, titled “Rombo,” features a Romney lookalike roving around an empty building wielding a gun that fires mud-filled paint balls. It accuses Romney and his supporters of running a multimillion-dollar negative campaign.

At the same time, the ad takes a few swipes of its own at the former Massachusetts governor — notably on health care and climate change.

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Rick Santorum leads in Ohio poll


Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum smiles while speaking to the crowd at a campaign rally. (Anthony Bolante - Reuters)

Rick Santorum leads Mitt Romney in the key battleground of Ohio, a new Quinnipiac poll finds.

The conservative former Pennsylvania senator takes 36 percent of the vote to the former Massachusetts governor’s 29 percent. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich follows with 20 percent; Texas Rep. Ron Paul is a distant fourth with 9 percent.

Santorum’s lead here follows a pattern — he does well in Midwestern states with large blue-collar populations, while Romney does better in the West and Northeast.

Ohio will be the major battleground on March 6’s “Super Tuesday,” when 10 states hold their primaries.

Some of the state’s 66 delegates are allocated proportionally, so every candidate will have reason to compete. Early voting has already begun, so there’s an incentive to start campaigning. It will be competitive: 50 percent of the likely Republican voters who were surveyed were open to changing their minds.

Restore Our Future, a pro-Romney super PAC, is already putting $252,000 into ads in the Buckeye state.

Candidates will also want to start laying the groundwork for the general election, where Ohio will be a key swing state.

Right now, President Obama would take 46 percent to Romney’s 44 percent in the Quinnipiac poll, a statistical tie. Obama would beat Santorum 47 percent to 41 percent.

Picking Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R) as his running-mate would not help Romney; the ticket would lose 47 percent to 43 percent.

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Santorum ad says he has ‘best chance to beat Obama’

Santorum ad says he has ‘best chance to beat Obama’

The Michigan ad wars are heating up.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is out with his first ad in the Rust Belt state, a positive spot arguing that he’s best positioned to take on President Obama.

Recent polls have Santorum in the lead in Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary.

It’s a slightly retooled version of an ad Santorum aired in Iowa and New Hampshire.

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Pew poll: Rick Santorum catches Mitt Romney

Pew poll: Rick Santorum catches Mitt Romney

Rick Santorum has tied Mitt Romney in national support among Republicans, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Gallup also found a statistical tie between the two.

Conventional wisdom often has it that Romney’s position shifts are a known quantity from his 2008 run — they are “baked into the cake,” so opposition research and negative ads are unlikely to change voters’ perceptions much. This survey suggests otherwise.

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GOP presidential race enters national phase

The Republican presidential race enters a new phase today: A distinctly national one.

While the first month-plus of the GOP contest has been handled mostly one state at a time and has been dominated by some of the smaller states in the union, the next phase brings the race into bigger states holding their contests on the same day as one another.
Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich pose for a photo at the start of the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in January. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

And that means that the days of everyone focusing intently on individual states for days or a week at a time are over.

By all rights, that should favor the candidate with the money and the national organization, Mitt Romney.

Then again, the word “should” doesn’t have a great track record in this year’s presidential race.

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Rick Santorum at odds with conservative base on issue of women in combat

Rick Santorum may have committed one of the relatively few gaffes of his GOP presidential campaign by suggesting Thursday that women shouldn’t serve in combat roles because of “other types of emotions that are involved.”


Republican presidential candidate former Pennsylvania senator Santorum listens to a student's question at Oral Roberts University, Feb. 9, 2012, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Eric Gay - Associated Press)

Exactly what he meant by “other types of emotions” will be litigated in the hours and days ahead. But it’s also important to note that, even without the reference to emotions, Santorum’s position on the issue is at odds with most Americans and even the GOP base.

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The White House’s convenient contraception controversy

The White House’s decision to force Catholic hospitals to dispense emergency contraception was a hot topic at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday.

And that’s probably AOK with the Obama campaign.
Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum speaks at Oral Roberts University on Thursday in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

For a White House that has often been accused of trying to undermine Mitt Romney in the Republican presidential race, the contraception debate is perhaps its happiest accident in that quest.

After all, while the issue hasn’t exactly been fun to deal with for the White House, what better way to help a social conservative like Rick Santorum in his quest to bring down Romney?

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A hyper-regional GOP delegate race? Here’s how

Rick Santorum’s trio of victories in Tuesday’s contests in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri virtually assures that the Republican presidential race will, on some level, be a delegate race.

And if that delegate race drags on for a while, it could very well pit different regions of the country against one another.

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The culture war is back

The culture war is back

One unintended consequence of the improving economy: The culture war is back.

Last night, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum proved that social issues can still pack a punch.

For months, the Republican presidential candidates have hammered away on the economy — and only the economy — as they crisscrossed the campaign trail. But over the past few days, longtime social issues -- contraception, abortion and gay marriage -- have taken the stage in the campaign.

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Missouri’s meaningless primary? Not anymore

The Missouri primary is the only so-called “beauty contest” in the Republican presidential race this year.

But it might be remembered as where things got a little ugly for Mitt Romney.

Rick Santorum’s massive win in the meaningless Show Me State primary on Tuesday highlighted a strong day overall for the former Pennsylvania senator.
Republican presidential candidate and former senator Rick Santorum poses with supporters after speaking at a campaign rally Tuesday in Blaine, Minn. Despite a strong showing in that state’s caucuses, the Missouri primary was his biggest win Tuesday. (Photo by Ben Garvin/Getty Images)

With big wins in Missouri and Minnesota — two of the three states holding contests Tuesday — Santorum has cast at least some doubt on Romney’s presumptive nominee status for the entire three-week lull period before another state casts its votes.

And Missouri, despite being the most inconsequential race of the day when it comes to the GOP delegate race, may actually have been the most important to the narrative going forward.

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Missouri primary results: Rick Santorum wins

Missouri primary results: Rick Santorum wins

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. 

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What Rick Santorum can win on Tuesday

Rick Santorum may actually win a state or two today. But does it really mean anything?

Mitt Romney’s campaign set about turning aside a possible surge by Santorum on Monday, holding a conference call and beginning a push to attack the former Pennsylvania senator for a history of earmarking.

All of it came on the eve of three less-prominent contests held Tuesday that Santorum is banking on to make him relevant again in the presidential contest — the Colorado caucuses, the Minnesota caucuses and the Missouri primary.

And Romney’s team, while downplaying the significance of Tuesday’s contests, seemed acutely aware that the narrative could get away from it if Santorum wins a state or two.

It all sets to stage for one of the biggest spin wars of the 2012 campaign, in which the results matter about as much as how they will be interpreted.

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Why Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich dropping out wouldn’t change much — in one chart

Depending on the results of Tuesday’s contests, there may be pressure on either Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum to drop out of the GOP presidential race.

At which point the other one would have a good shot at beating Mitt Romney head-to-head, right?

Not exactly.

Gingrich and Santorum have been arguing for a while now that, if only the other one dropped out, they would have a good chance at uniting the conservative, anti-Romney vote and defeating the frontrunner. Santorum is expected to make this case even more vocally if he wins Missouri primary on Tuesday.

But the polling just doesn’t bear that out — at least not right now.

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Rick Santorum allies go negative for first time

Rick Santorum’s friends go on the attack, Newt Gingrich wants back on the Florida ballot, Erskine Bowles passes on the North Carolina governor’s race and Michael Bloomberg gives to Planned Parenthood.

Make sure to sign up to get “Afternoon Fix” in your e-mail inbox every day by 5 (ish) p.m!

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5 lessons the Florida primary taught us

5 lessons the Florida primary taught us

There wasn’t much drama in the Florida Republican primary on Tuesday night. Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney pulled away to a convincing enough victory that the race was called for him within moments of polls closing.

But, that dearth of drama doesn’t mean that there weren’t lessons learned from Tuesday’s vote in the Sunshine State that can be carried forward as the race moves to Nevada and beyond.

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Mitt Romney’s Florida sweep — and how it changes the presidential race

Mitt Romney’s Florida sweep — and how it changes the presidential race

Mitt Romney’s across-the-board victory in the Florida Republican presidential primary on Tuesday night serves as a direct rebuttal to the criticism that he simply isn’t conservative enough to be the party’s nominee and leaves his remaining rivals with few obvious next steps as the nomination fight moves to Nevada next month.

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Five counties to watch in the Florida primary

Today’s Florida primary features the largest and most diverse electorate of any contest to date in the Republican presidential primary fight.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney enters election day with a clear polling lead although former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pledged this morning that “I’m not going to lose big in Florida.”

Most precincts — 94 percent, actually — close at 7 p.m. eastern time while a handful of polling places in the state’s Panhandle region close at 8 p.m.

Given the size and complexity of the Florida electorate, we polled a bunch of Sunshine State Republican strategists in search of the five counties they will be watching as leading indicators of not only who will win tonight but also of how the swing state is trending heading into the general election.

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Iowa GOP declares Rick Santorum winner of the Iowa caucuses

Iowa GOP declares Rick Santorum winner of the Iowa caucuses

The Iowa Republican Party late Friday declared Rick Santorum the winner of the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

The party earlier this week issued the final canvassed results of the Jan. 3 race, which showed the former Pennsylvania senator overtaking Mitt Romney by a 34-vote margin. But in doing so, it noted that results from eight precincts weren’t certified, which led to confusion over whether it was officially declaring a winner or left the race as a virtual tie.

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Rick Santorum takes an ax to one-time ally Newt Gingrich

Rick Santorum takes an ax to one-time ally Newt Gingrich

Rick Santorum, perhaps recognizing a make-or-break moment in the South Carolina Republican primary, set about chopping down each of his opponents issue-by-issue in Thursday’s debate.

The former Pennsylvania senator had attacks at the ready for each of his opponents, and perhaps more successfully than any candidate in the dozen-plus debates so far, used them to good effect.

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Romney called Santorum but did not concede Iowa

Romney called, Perry and his super PAC both called it quits, Tammy Baldwin is doing well, Marianne Gingrich is talking and there’s a debate tonight.

Make sure to sign up to get “Afternoon Fix” in your e-mail inbox every day by 5 (ish) p.m!

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Rick Santorum may have won Iowa, but does it even matter?

Rick Santorum may have won Iowa, but does it even matter?

Updated at 10:32 a.m.

It appears quite possible that Rick Santorum — not Mitt Romney — won the Iowa caucuses two weeks ago.

We’ll never know for sure due to incomplete official results, but according to the final results released today, Santorum has a 34-vote edge on Romney, casting doubt on the previous version of events that Romney won by eight votes and, at the very least, making the race a virtual tie.

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Rick Santorum: I may have won Iowa

Rick Santorum may have won Iowa, James Dobson called Callista Gingrich a “mistress of eight years,” Obama will speak in Bank of America stadium and a competitive House race might be shaping up in Portland of all place.

Make sure to sign up to get “Afternoon Fix” in your e-mail inbox every day by 5 (ish) p.m!

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Rick Santorum ad: Mitt Romney ‘just like Obama’

Hours before sparring with him in Monday’s South Carolina debate over negative ads, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum released a spot there calling former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney “just like Obama.”

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5 storylines to watch in the New Hampshire primary

5 storylines to watch in the New Hampshire primary

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Polls will close across New Hampshire in three hours time and we should start getting results (rubbing hands gleefully) shortly after that.

Need to while away the hours until the polls close and the Fix live chat goes, um, live? Us too! Below is a look at a few storylines to keep an eye on tonight as ballots get counted. Have storylines of your own we need to watch? The comments section awaits.

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Why South Carolina matters more than New Hampshire

Why South Carolina matters more than New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s presidential primary may be the news of the day but talk to any Republican strategist and it’s clear that the Granite State vote is only the appetizer to South Carolina’s main course in 11 days.

The South Carolina primary, which is set for Jan. 21, has long been circled on the calendars of political junkies everywhere for two big reasons: 1) The state has voted for the man who has gone on to win the Republican nomination in every primary since 1980 and 2) The state has a history of, how should we put this, contentious campaigns. (Think John McCain vs George W. Bush in 2000.)

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Just how bad was Rick Santorum’s 2006 reelection loss? Really bad.

Just how bad was Rick Santorum’s 2006 reelection loss? Really bad.

DERRY, N.H. — Rick Santorum’s ugly 2006 Senate reelection loss is going to keep casting doubt on his electability in the 2012 presidential race.And a look at the numbers from that Pennsylvania race shows why.

It was pretty bad.

We all know the topline number, which had Santorum losing to now-Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) by 18 points overall. But some crosstabs put together by The Washington Post’s crack polling team show why he lost so poorly. He struggled mightily with young voters, Catholics and, perhaps most troubling for him, independents.

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Why town hall protesters are helping Rick Santorum

Why town hall protesters are helping Rick Santorum

HOLLIS, N.H. – If you didn’t know better, you’d think Rick Santorum enjoys being grilled by protesters.

In fact, he probably does. And he should.

The former Pennsylvania senator has been inundated at his New Hampshire events with questions from unsympathetic voices in recent days, pressing him mostly on gay rights but also on issues like the separation of church and state. It started with an exchange at a college Thursday in which Santorum set about comparing the legalization of gay marriage to the legalization of polygamy.

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Rick Santorum’s “beat Obama” problem

Rick Santorum’s “beat Obama” problem

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum’s near-victory in Tuesday Iowa caucuses have catapulted him into contention in the 2012 Republican presidential primary race.

But, dig into the Iowa exit poll and it’s clear that Santorum will have to solve a very basic perception problem if he is to wind up as the Republican nominee. That problem? Most Republicans don’t think he can beat President Obama next fall.

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The 5 key questions of the Republican presidential race

The 5 key questions of the Republican presidential race

The Iowa caucuses answered some questions — no, Michele Bachmann isn’t going to be president — but raised lots and lots of others.

As the race moves to New Hampshire (Jan. 10) and then South Carolina (Jan. 21), here’s a look at five key questions — the answers to which will tell us a lot about the shape of the race going forward.

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Why Rick Santorum (really) won Iowa

The near-tie in Tuesday night’s Iowa Republican caucuses left the political world wondering: Who really won?

By the numbers, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney did — claiming 30,015 votes to 30,008 for former Pennsylvania senator R ick Santorum.

But, measured by the candidate who gained the most from what happened in Iowa, it’s clear that Santorum emerged victorious.

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Eight lessons the Iowa caucuses taught us

Eight lessons the Iowa caucuses taught us

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s 8-vote victory over former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum in the 2012 Iowa caucuses is only a few hours old — and already is one of the legendary results in the history of presidential politics.

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Romney and Santorum demonstrate hugely different bases of support

Romney and Santorum demonstrate hugely different bases of support

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum wound up in a virtual tie in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday. And they did it from extremely different bases of support.

While Santorum relied on very conservative voters, born-again Christians, and social and moral conservatives, Romney relied on voters who were most concerned about the economy, who just want to beat President Obama, and those who don’t identify as born-agains.

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Rick Santorum: Ron Paul is ‘disgusting’

Rick Santorum: Ron Paul is ‘disgusting’

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum dropped the gloves against Texas Rep. Ron Paul this morning.

“Ron Paul is disgusting,” Santorum told a handful of Fox News reporters Tuesday morning.

Santorum has been gaining on Paul in Iowa polls heading into today’s Iowa caucuses. He blamed the Texas congressman for robocalls running in the state that claim Santorum supports abortion rights and opposes gun rights.

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Iowa caucuses: The Fix prediction contest!

Iowa caucuses: The Fix prediction contest!

The Iowa caucuses are here! Between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. eastern time, Iowans will gather across the state to pick the man (or woman) that they believe represents Republicans’ best chance to knock off President Obama next November.

But before Iowans tell us what they think, we want to hear what you think. In the comments section below, offer your prediction on who will claim the top three spots — with percentages! — in tonight’s voting. As a tie-breaker, offer your prediction on what the overall turnout for the Republican caucuses will be.

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2012 Iowa caucuses: The 6 counties to watch

It’s caucus day!

After months of campaigning, debating and spinning, the moment of reckoning has arrived, as the Iowa caucuses officially kick off the Republican presidential nomination fight tonight.
The sun sets over a farm Sunday in Johnston, Iowa. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

We’ll have tons of coverage throughout the day — both on The Fix as well as our Election 2012 blog — and a live blog tracking all the results right here beginning at 8 p.m. eastern time.

In the meantime — and, yes, the wait for results will be interminable for all of us — here’s six counties to keep an eye on as the results roll in. They’ll tell us where the race is headed before it gets there.

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What Rick Santorum and John Edwards have in common

What Rick Santorum and John Edwards have in common

For six years — from 1998 to 2004 — Rick Santorum and John Edwards served in the Senate together. And it would seem that that time spent in the world's greatest deliberative body is about all the two men ever had in common.

But Santorum’s current surge in Iowa evokes nothing so much as Edwards’ rapid rise in the Hawkeye State in the final days before the 2004 caucuses.

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Santorum gets a grilling on ‘Meet the Press’

Santorum gets a grilling on ‘Meet the Press’

Rick Santorum on Sunday defended his 2008 support for Mitt Romney for president and his record on abortion and earmarks in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The former Pennsylvania senator, who for the first time in the 2012 presidential race is in the spotlight, got the grilling that comes along with it from “Meet the Press” moderator David Gregory.

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Rick Santorum’s path to victory

Rick Santorum’s path to victory

Rick Santorum is surging in Iowa, gaining notoriety and drawing the attacks of his opponents.

But can he win?

We here at The Fix remain skeptical. But if there is a path to victory, here’s what it looks like:

The CNN/Opinion Research poll released this week showed Santorum moving into third place in Iowa at 16 percent. But it also included some very interesting numbers when it comes to Christian voters. To wit: frontrunners Mitt Romney and Ron Paul combined for 60 percent of the vote among those who do not describe themselves as “born-again” Christians, but just 34 percent of those who do describe themselves as born-again.

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Inside the Rick Santorum surge

Inside the Rick Santorum surge

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is the hottest candidate in Iowa, surging into contention with just five days before the first-in-the-nation caucuses, according to a new CNN/Time poll.

What explains Santorum’s surge? And can he keep moving on up? The first question is easier to answer than the second.

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Bob Vander Plaats endorses Santorum. Does it matter?

Bob Vander Plaats endorses Santorum. Does it matter?

Could the Rick Santorum surge actually happen?

Two influential Iowa Christian conservatives endorsed the former Pennsylvania senator today — Family Leader CEO Bob Vander Plaats and Iowa Family Policy Center Chuck Hurley.

Santorum is still a longshot to win thr rapidly-approaching Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, and a long, long, longshot to win the GOP presidential nomination.

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CNN national security debate: What to watch for

Eight Republican candidates will gather for the billionth — oops, sorry, twelfth— time tonight in Washington, D.C. for a debate focused on national security.

The festivities get started at 8 p.m. on CNN — we will ramp up the Fix live-blog around 7:30 p.m. — but in the meantime we thought we’d offer a few things to keep an eye on in tonight’s debate.

As always, your thoughts are welcome in the comments section.

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Santorum strategist urges Cain to come clean on harassment allegations

Santorum strategist urges Cain to come clean on harassment allegations

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign is calling on Herman Cain to offer a more detailed explanation of the sexual harassment allegations made against him during his time as the head of the National Restaurant Association.

“What I would encourage the Cain campaign to do is, if you are the frontrunner and you plan to be the nominee, to be forthcoming so that you are vetted, and we don’t get into a situation where you’re our nominee and we find out things after the fact,” said Santorum strategist John Brabender, speaking at an election preview forum hosted by National Journal.

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Las Vegas Republican debate: Winners and losers

The eighth Republican presidential debate — and fifth in the last six weeks! — is over.


LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 18: (L-R) Former CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry participate in the Republican presidential debate airing on CNN, October 18, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
We liveblogged the whole thing but also made time to scribble down a few of the best — and the worst — moments of the night.

Our take is below. Have thoughts of your own on the debate? The comments section awaits.

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Las Vegas Republican debate: The Live Blog

Tonight at 8 p.m. eastern time seven Republican candidates running for president will take the stage in Las Vegas for the fifth debate in the last six weeks.

And what would a Republican debate be without a Fix live blog? (Answer: It would be, somehow, empty. Like “Two and a Half Men” without Charlie Sheen. Or Van Halen without David Lee Roth.)

Starting around 7:30 p.m. — we like to warm up to avoid injury — the Fix posse will be detailing every quote and note from the debate. If you’ve never participated in a Fix live blog before, there’s no time like the present. It’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and the “McLaughlin Group” rolled into one. Sort of.

Come. Comment. Hang out. It’s the only way to watch a debate!

Las Vegas Republican debate: What to watch for

Las Vegas Republican debate: What to watch for

For the fifth time in the last six weeks and the eighth time in 2011 — neither of those are typos — the Republican presidential field will gather on a debate stage with Las Vegas providing the backdrop to tonight’s tete a tete.

Unlike the last several debates there will be seven not eight men and women on stage as former Utah governor Jon Huntsman is boycotting the debate in solidarity with the New Hampshire Republican party, which is upset with the Silver State for scheduling their presidential caucus on Jan. 14, 2012. (Follow all of that?)

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Santorum targets Romney, Perry and Cain with new ad

Santorum targets Romney, Perry and Cain with new ad

Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign takes on all three of the GOP’s leading candidates in a new radio ad set to run in Iowa.

The former Pennsylvania senator’s ad, which was produced by top GOP ad firm BrabenderCox and obtained in advance by The Fix, hits Mitt Romney for “his government-run Romneycare,” says Rick Perry is “dead wrong” on giving in-state tuition to the children of illegal immigrants, and accuses Herman Cain of “strongly” supporting “the Wall Street bailouts.”

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Afternoon Fix: Santorum weighs in on Perry hunting camp

Rick Santorum weighs in on the rock, Michele Bachmann is headed to New Hampshire, Chris Christie supporters are scattering and most candidates are boycotting a Univision debate.

Make sure to sign up to get “Afternoon Fix” in your e-mail inbox every day by 5 (ish) p.m.!

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GOP Debate: What we learned

GOP Debate: What we learned

The only thing more fun than live-blogging a presidential debate is sifting through the aftermath and figuring out what it all means.

With a (short) night’s sleep to think on the fifth Republican presidential debate, we came up with a few lessons learned from the night that was.

Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments section.

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