Romney wins WA caucus, Santorum falls to third

Mitt Romney won the Washington caucus yesterday, as polls indicated in the last couple of days, but by a wider margin than expected.  Also unexpected was the second-place finisher:

Mitt Romney won the Republican caucuses in Washington state, according to unofficial results early Sunday, giving the former Massachusetts governor a shot in the arm heading into Super Tuesday contests.

With 99% of the vote in, Romney had 38%. Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 25% and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum had 24%. They were trailed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 10%.

At stake in the contest are 40 delegates.

“We’re in a good second place, but the good news is we’re doing very, very well in getting delegates,” Paul told supporters in Seattle, when about half of the vote had been counted. “The enthusiasm for the cause of liberty continues to grow exponentially.”

Actually what was at stake was zero delegates.  The delegates get assigned at the state convention, and the preference poll doesn’t bind the state convention to any outcome.  The caucus does provide some bragging rights and momentum heading into Super Tuesday, though, and Romney will be able to brag both about the win and the turnout, which was much higher than in 2008, when only 12,400 voters attended.  Nearly four times that number caucused yesterday, which means that Romney can rebut the charge that he only wins contests with depressed turnouts.  In fact, Romney won more votes yesterday (19,111) than were cast in total in 2008.

For that matter, so did Ron Paul, who engineered a surprise second-place finish over Rick Santorum, with 12,594 votes.  Santorum won 500 fewer votes, and comes in lower than second place for the first time in a month.  Santorum campaigned in Washington this week, and the finish will create even more doubt in Super Tuesday states about his continued viability.

I’d normally predict that the party leadership would consider throwing in with Romney at this point to hasten the conclusion of the competitive part of the primary, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has already done so:

“Mitt Romney is the only candidate who has a pro-growth, pro-jobs plan for the future,” Cantor said on NBC’s Meet the Press. He added: “[Romney] will best be able to lead this economy back to a growth mode.”

Throughout his interview, Cantor attempted to focus on the economy, and praised Romney as being the only candidate to put forth a “bold plan” to increase jobs and reduce regulatory red tape.

Cantor represents Virginia, which is one of 10 states voting on Super Tuesday, March 6. While Cantor said he expects Romney to take all of Virginia’s delegates, only Romney and Rep. Ron Paul are on the ballot there.

Cantor’s endorsement could have been tied to the Virginia primary, but Romney and Paul are the only two on that ballot, and Romney is already expected to win by a wide margin.  This sounds more like a message intended for those outside of Virginia and for the rest of the Super Tuesday states.  Don’t be surprised if other senior GOP figures in leadership follow suit.

About Albert N. Milliron 6987 Articles

Albert Milliron is the founder of Politisite. Milliron has been credentialed by most major news networks for Presidential debates and major Political Parties for political event coverage. Albert maintains relationships with the White House and State Department to provide direct reporting from the Administration’s Press team. Albert is the former Public Relations Chairman of the Columbia County Republican Party in Georgia. He is a former Delegate.

Milliron is a veteran of the US Army Medical Department and worked for Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Psychiatry.

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